Scottish stillbirth and early infant death rates lowest in the UK and approaching lowest in the world



In the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland – the rate of stillbirths and deaths of babies within 28 days is 4.3 per 1 000 live births. This is the lowest in the world. In the USA, it’s about 10. The Scottish figure has now fallen to just 4.72 with the rate for the UK at 5.61.

This good news is from the BBC website! If you can bear to watch Reporting Scotland or listen to Good Morning Scotland and they mention it or don’t, let me know.

However, there’s something a bit contradictory here isn’t there. Aren’t we the sick man of Europe with shorter life expectancies due to smoking and poor diets? Shouldn’t our childbirth figures be higher than the rest of the UK? Yet, they’re not. Why? Well, I’ve already reported on what are probably the two main reasons – lower child poverty and a better NHS. Here’s a reminder of the evidence for these claims and their sources. First on child poverty, see this again:

‘Scotland, for example, has the smallest number of children living in poverty among the constituent nations of the UK, the lowest prevalence of low pay and far more young people from deprived areas going on to higher education.’ (iv)

Second on NHS Scotland:

‘Out of all the four nations, hospitals in Scotland seem [seem?] to have fared the best. Weekly data shows four-hour performance in major units hovering around the 90% mark during January.

So, who gets the credit for this? Have years of progressive social policies implemented by the SNP helped in anyway do you think? Are the UK figures lagging due to Tory austerity measures?

The Scottish Government’s new Social Security Bill further highlights the contrast between its vision and that of the heartless Tories


You’ve, no doubt, read plenty on the dementia tax, the bedroom tax and the rape clause which so neatly sum up the kind of people the Tories are and the extent to which their values contrast with those of the SNP. I’ve already written about this at some length. See, for example:

The SNP Government shows its good heart as the Tories squirm in heartless poverty creation

Scotland becomes the only part of the UK with statutory targets to reduce the number of children experiencing the damaging effects of poverty by 2030 despite already having the lowest rate of child poverty in the UK.

Yesterday, however, the Scottish Government further reinforced its presence on the higher moral ground with the announcement of a new social security bill which will, to quote them, ‘have dignity and respect at its heart.’ That’s respect for the poor, the disabled and the weak mind you not respect for the Queen.

Many of the details have still to come but the bill:

gives ministers in Scotland the power to manage a number of benefits devolved from Westminster, as well as the ability to create and develop new benefits to help support people in Scotland.’ One of the first moves will be to increase Carer’s Allowance next year, followed by the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance from summer 2019.’ It also places a duty on the Scottish Ministers to give assistance to persons who are entitled to it and provides a brief description of each type of assistance that Scottish Ministers will give.’

Anti-poverty campaigners have welcomed the bill which they anticipate will make Scotland a fairer and more just society. Step-by-step, this government is making independence an inevitability as Scotland just becomes incompatible with the UK.

Scottish Government grants to further boost Scotland’s food and drink industry which already produces 28% of all UK exports


We already know that Scotland plays a dis-proportionally large part in the UK’s food and drinks industries. See, for example:

With only 8% of the population, Scotland accounts for more than 28% of UK food and drink exports. Too wee to survive on our own?

Determined to maintain this high performance, the Scottish government has allocated £5.8 million in grants to food processing companies so that they can improve the facilities and safeguard around 1 200 jobs.

In the Scottish Business News Network, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

‘Whether it’s salmon, dairy or whisky our food and drink industry is world-renowned and these latest grants will enable sixteen more food and drink companies to expand their operations in response to growing demand for our wonderful larder. With the latest figures showing that our food and drink exports increased by over 11% in the first quarter of this year, today’s funding award of £5.8 million clearly demonstrates our continuing commitment to help food and drink companies large and small take their businesses to the next level, building on our reputation as a land of food and drink.’

Once more, news that both confirms the competence of the SNP government and the eventual success of an independent Scotland.

Scottish Government confirms that no Scottish tower blocks have been clad in the type used on Grenfell Tower



A speedy response from all of Scotland’s local authorities and other landlords has confirmed than none of their tower blocks have been clad in the inflammable aluminium composite used at Grenfell. The group which ordered the survey and response has also initiated these actions:

  • The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) will continue to carry out additional operational assurance visits to high-rise buildings. Since the Grenfell Tower fire, over 200 visits have been carried out by the SFRS to residents in high-rise buildings.
  • Work already underway to develop a common standard of housing quality across both private and social rented housing, as well as to consult on and review standards for fire and smoke detectors, will be expedited.
  • The Working Group will also consider current regulations and evidence base for sprinkler systems to determine if further action should be taken.

I think the last point is of particular interest when you consider the widespread use of sprinkler systems in tower blocks used for commercial purposes. It’s good to see this speedy response regardless of the initial reactions suggesting that such a disaster was already thought to be much less likely in Scotland. You might remember these comments at the time.

Jim Millar, a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and former housing convener at Angus Council was quoted as saying without giving specific evidence: ‘I’m quite confident that something like this would not happen to this extent in Scotland.’

Also, this reference, which now seems accurate, to the regulations was made:

‘Generally, the requirements in Scotland are more onerous that those in England and Wales or Northern Ireland….In Scotland the AS Fire Resistant Wall system should be used for all walls which require a fire resistance period. See Scottish Building Standards Technical Handbook Section 2 for details of boundary conditions and fire resistance requirements.’

I hope this news will put a few minds at ease.

Most North Sea oil and gas firms no longer planning job cuts and reporting growing confidence in recruitment according to Bank of Scotland report.



We’ve already seen three recent reports including one from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce confirming a clear turnaround of the employment prospects in the North Sea:

Scottish Oil’s Confident Future: Three Reports

We’ve also seen a report from Aberdeen JobCentre reporting month-on-month improvements with more workers returning to the sector.

As Scottish unemployment falls, North Sea employment starts to climb again

Now, to add further evidence, we have a Bank of Scotland report today saying that most are no longer planning job cuts, were more optimistic about recruiting and that the huge finds to the west of Shetland were ‘causes for great excitement’ for them. Bear in mind the inherent conservatism or canniness among business people when something good appears to be happening and you’ll know things are probably getting better and getting better faster than the report suggests.

For a reminder of just how big the west of Shetland finds are, see:

Estimates of Scotland’s oil reserves West of Shetland now massively increased to around 8 billion barrels! ‘A super-resource now on the cards.’

With only 10% of the population, Scotland has 55% of the community energy production of England, Wales and Northern Ireland put together



Community Energy England have just published a report on community-run schemes based on wind, hydro and solar power in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Describing them as operating ‘across the country’, they found 222 with a collective generation capacity of 121 megawatts.

In addition, they found that Scotland has 67 megawatts of community power or 55% of the UK total with only 9% of the UK population.

This is further evidence that rather than having a subsidy dependency relationship, the the Scottish energy sector is acting as the UK’s energy reserve and clean energy powerhouse as it struggles to meet greenhouse gas emissions.