- 23 Jan 2020
Date received: 19 Dec 2019
Date responded: 22 Jan 2020
I have a number of requests for information, required in order to consider the future of our country and in relation to the competence of our executive. Can you supply answers that tell me who to contact for this information.
1. In the event at some time in the future Scotland should opt for independence will it be the government’s intention that it will remain be a Kingdom.
2. What is the simple current difference between tax revenue in Scotland and Scottish government expenditure.
3. Why in a community such as our Capitol city with its undoubted wealth are there beggars on the street.
4. Why are our streets in Edinburgh covered in chewing gum.
5. Can you explain the racist anti English attitude experienced so often now in this country, and what is our government going to do about it.
6. Does the Government have any plan to solve the violence seen in recent political street activity.
7. Would an independent Scotland remain in NATO.
8. What currency would a future Scotland embrace.
9. What is the current administrations constitutional relationship with the Church of Scotland.
Before addressing the individual questions you have raised, I should explain that with the exception of question 2, the questions raised are not valid Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) gives you the right to request recorded information which is held by the Scottish Government at the date when you make your request. As questions 1. and 3. – 9. are general enquiries about Scottish Government policies, rather than a request for specific recorded information which the Scottish Government holds, we have not treated them as an FOI request, but as a general business enquiry. I can however, provide you with details of the Scottish Government’s policy positions on the queries you have raised. If you have any general enquiries about a Scottish Government policy, you should contact our Central Enquiry Unit, as you did when making this request, and they will pass your query on to the appropriate area. In regards to making FOI requests, you may find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx
1, 7, & 8. As you may be aware, the Scottish Government produced a comprehensive plan for an independent Scotland in 2014. Over the next few months, the Scottish Government will undertake the necessary work to update that plan and ensure that the people of Scotland have the information they need to make an informed choice over the future of their country.
2. The Scottish Government annually publishes the Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland (GERS) Report. GERS addresses three questions about Scotland's public sector finances under the current constitutional arrangements:
- What revenues were raised in Scotland?
- How much did the country pay for the public services that were consumed? This includes public spending undertaken for the benefit of Scottish citizens by the Scottish and UK Governments and all other parts of the public sector.
- To what extent did the revenues raised cover the costs of these public services?
The most recent GERS Report can be read online at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/government-expenditure-revenue-scotland-gers/
3. Street begging raises cross cutting social justice issues which need to be considered and we believe that a multi-agency approach involving local authorities and other support services to address issues such as homelessness, and drug or alcohol addiction is the most positive way of dealing with begging and its associated problems. You may be interested to know that a number of Scottish local authorities have been pro-active in working with a variety of bodies such as health boards, the police, social services, the UK Border Force (if foreign beggars have been identified) and Third Sector bodies to engage with street beggars to help them seek appropriate support and advice they require to help them deal with their immediate needs.
As you may be aware, Scotland has some of the strongest homelessness rights in the world. Everybody found to be homeless is legally entitled to housing and most people are provided with settled, permanent accommodation. Local authorities in Scotland have statutory responsibilities towards people who are threatened with or who are experiencing homelessness and are obliged by law to offer a minimum of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to anyone at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Furthermore, anyone found to be homeless through no fault of their own is entitled to be provided with settled accommodation.
In November 2018, together with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), we published the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, which outlines a five year programme to end homelessness and transform temporary accommodation. This plan sets the direction for real and lasting change towards ending homelessness. The Action Plan set out our commitment to exploring ways of providing effective support to people engaged in street begging, recognising that, while not necessarily rough sleeping or homeless, those involved in street begging or other street based activity are also likely to need support with their housing and will be, almost without exception, extremely vulnerable. Working with partners, we will review support available, with a view to developing a national approach as part of our wider work to develop a national model of effective, empowered front-line outreach.
4. Chewing gum is a form of litter and comes under the statutory duties on local authorities set out in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This includes a duty on local authorities, to keep their land free of litter and refuse as far as is practicable. The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (CoPlar) sets out these duties in more detail.
If you would like to request more information or lodge a complaint, you can do so with the City of Edinburgh Council.
5. The Scottish Government takes all types of hate crime very seriously. We are clear that hate crime or prejudice is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We recognise the hugely damaging effect on both victims and communities and that we must all play our part to challenge it. We will continue to celebrate the fullness of Scotland’s diversity - everyone in Scotland must be empowered to achieve their potential irrespective of race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. We want to build inclusive, resilient and safe communities in Scotland where everyone feels connected, has a sense of belonging and feels valued.
6. Violence of any kind is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated, tackling any form of violence is a key priority for this government. We have invested more than £20 million in violence prevention over the last decade. This includes over £14 million to the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, and more than £4 million to No Knives, Better Lives.
Alongside tough enforcement, Scotland has adopted a public health approach to violent crime that encourages collaborative partnerships to tackle the underlying causes of violence. Our approach has been focused on children, young people and their families.
Recorded crime remains at one of the lowest levels seen since 1974, and is down 41% since 2006-07 and official statistics show that the 2018-19 clear up rate is at one of the highest levels since comparable records began in 1976.
Despite the successes we have seen, we are not complacent. There are still people in Scotland that experience and are affected by violence. This is why the Scottish Government is committed to continuing to develop and deliver innovative ways to reduce the levels of violence that still persist within our communities.
9. The Church of Scotland is entirely self-governing, further details can be found on its website. You might be interested to know that the First Minister traditionally attends the opening of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly each year and will meet with the Moderator of the Church of Scotland during their annual visit to the Scottish Parliament.
Modern Scotland is a multi-faith and multi-cultural society and the Scottish Government values and appreciates our relationships with Scotland’s diverse faith and belief communities, and welcomes their contribution.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House