I may be wrong, but I think Stu Campbell is talking crap (again).

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The other day I wrote a blog which exposed a leading cybernat, Stu Campbell, as being a bit of a liar (5295 views). Three days later he concocted a response. My quite cynical eyes spotted a few small problems with what he had written, but there was a substantial point which attracted my attention. These are his words concerning a £1.3b rise in the SNP’s budget for “Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth”:

“Andrew Neil is telling us that’s extra cash for the Scottish Government to spend. But really it’s just money which used to be paid directly to [Police and Firefighter pension] recipients by the DWP, but has now been given to the SPPA to pay out instead. Not a single extra penny will come into Scotland. All that’s changed is the postmark on the envelope.”

He is suggesting that the DWP previously paid Police and Firefighter pensions, but this has been transferred from Westminster to Holyrood as AME funding and this corresponded with a similar cut in DEL resources. I was a little surprised by that as I understood that DWP only covered the State Pension & Pension Credit.

I checked the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) website:

“In September 2013 the Scottish Ministers announced that following the creation of a unitary Scottish Fire and Rescue Services for Scotland with effect from 1st April 2013, the administration of all the current and new 2015 Schemes for the Fire Pension Schemes in Scotland would transfer from the current regional administrators to the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) by 1st April 2015.”

This suggests the pensions were transferred from Local Authorities (not DWP) to SPPA.  I checked the Scottish Government website (the White Paper!) – they say that in 2013 Police and Firefighters had an “Unfunded scheme supported by Scottish DEL” and managed by Local Authorities (not DWP).

It therefore appears that the rise AME and fall in DEL may, at least in part, be due to the actions of the SNP and has nothing to do with the DWP. If I am correct, this is quite awkward for the lying cybernat.

PS: The DWP website is a positive thing. A key priority of Ian Duncan Smith’s department is “helping to reduce poverty and improve social justice” and “enabling disabled people to fulfil their potential” (no irony there).

 

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14 thoughts on “I may be wrong, but I think Stu Campbell is talking crap (again).

  1. Kevin says:

    Look no offence mate but isn’t the point Campbell’s making is that AME is not funds that can be spent by the Scottish government on what it chooses. It’s money ear marked for specific things which they have no control over. They can’t spend less AME money and use it to increase revenue budgets for the NHS, police or local authorities. So correct me if I’m wrong, but surely it’s the money that you have a say in how it’s spent that counts. Which is DEL and which has been cut. I’m not sure how you can realistically suggest the SNP have any kind of responsibility for a cut in their operational budget but an increase in the money they have no choice on what to do with, when that is money is determined by decisions taken at Westminster.

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  2. Kevin says:

    Well that might be where I’m going wrong. My understanding is the Scottish government has no say at all on AME, could u explain where the Scottish government has chosen to move money from DEL to AME, and if it’s not too much trouble could u link to your source. Thanks

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  3. Kevin says:

    Hi again. Sorry if I’m labouring this and feel free to ignore me, I’m just trying to get into my head. 😊 As far as I can make out, fire service pensions are paid for as part of the AME budget. They are administered by sspa which is paid out of DEL. however previously it was administered by local government councils which is also paid out of DEL. I have tried to find a source that shows the actual pensions paid out are part of DEL or AME but all I can see is comments that fire service pensions are paid by UK treasury and any money allocated as AME that isn’t spent goes right back to the treasury. I can’t get how moving to a single fire service in Scotland has made any difference to DEL or AME spending as that surely is decided by UK government.

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  4. Kevin says:

    im not really sure what contradictions you mean or which bits you see as assertions? I’ve spent a little time searching online for something that would tell me exactly where fire service pensions are paid from and I’ve struggled to find anything concrete. I can find no evidence of pensions being paid from DEL but really I’m happy to be shown where I’m wrong if that’s the case. What I can see is the movement of the administration of pensions from local government to sspa. That’s on the links you’ve already posted, however both of these are funded from DEL anyway. But listen, I don’t want to waste your time on this. I just saw the article you had written and it didn’t 100% add up for me. I’m obviously not really on your wave length politically however I think it’s good you’re challenging information from other political commentators and the Scottish government with actual information and links. I enjoyed your piece and I appreciate you responding to me as you have done so.

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  5. drscottthinks says:

    Kevin,
    an assertion is a statement made without any substantiation. In your earlier response you demanded I provided links for each of my arguments (I already had), but you appear unable to do that yourself.

    As for contradictions, your say “fire service pensions are paid for as part of the AME budget.” whilst I give a link to the Scot Gov website that says otherwise.

    Scott

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  6. Kevin says:

    Sorry I thought I’d commented on your last reply. I have to say I disagree with a couple of your points. I hadn’t demanded anything. I asked pretty politely if u could link to something that would show where these pensions were paid from. I did so because what you linked to showed the ‘administration’ of the pension schemes had moved from local government to sspa. (Both local government and sspa being DEL spend) I said at first that as far as I could make out these pensions would be paid from AME because that made sense to me. It’s where NHS pensions are paid from after all, however I went on to say I had looked and couldn’t find a direct source that would tell me exactly where the funds were coming from. I did so because your basis for the article is to say the Scottish government may have caused a move from DEL to AME spend when they set up single fire and police service units, however you haven’t really evidenced that. (And I hope we can agree at least that the administration of a scheme is not the same as the funds for a scheme).

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  7. Kevin says:

    Ok I don’t think you were really getting the point. The links you provided show the administration of the schemes moved from local government to sspa. These are both DEL spend. There’s no question about that. What I was looking for was something that showed where these pension funds were being paid from rather than where they were being administered from. You’re point is that the Scottish government may have moved budget from DEL to AME by the creation of a single police force. Now, I’ve continued looking and come across this report from audit Scotland. It’s a few years old but I’ve found nothing that indicates a change. Have a look at page 22.

    http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/docs/central/2010/nr_110210_public_sector_pensions.pdf

    It’s fairly clear that police and fire pensions are paid directly from the operational budget of those forces. Which is again another DEL spend. So, as far as I can make out Campbell was mistaken on the point that the DWP paid these pension pots. (If he had used the NHS as an example however he’d have been correct. The document I’ve linked to explains funding for the schemes in Scotland)

    Where you yourself have fallen down Is equating the administration of the pension with the pension itself.

    But let’s be frank, all of these arguments are just background noise. The point that Campell made was that Neil has directly said that because AME spend has increased then it doesn’t matter that DEL has decreased to the tune of 10% (others argue 6-8%) as the over all budget has remained the same. Which is obviously mince given that Scottish Government has no say over how AME funds are spent so the Scottish government has had a rather large reduction in its operational budget.

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  8. drscottthinks says:

    1. The link I provided quite clearly says the pensions were supported by DEL. If you agree and think Wings is wrong, take it up with him (not me).

    2. Yes, the point Wings made was that DEL has reduced and AME has increased. By moving pension from DEL to AME, the SNP have been part of that change. That was the point of my blog!

    3. NHS pensions are irrelevant.

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  9. Kevin says:

    but the SNP haven’t moved pensions from DEL to AME at all. All they moved was the responsibility for running the schemes from local government to sspa. Both of these things are financed from the DEL budget. The money to pay the actual pensions for retired fire and police officers in Scotland is paid for from current fire and police operating budgets which are also DEL spend. Wings point is perfectly valid, his example was wrong because he mistakenly said these pension pots were coming from AME spend when they aren’t. Had he used the NHS as his example he’d have been spot on. (Hence why NHS pensions are entirely relevant) So increasing NHS pensions would be an increase in AME and the DEL budget could be cut and the total managed expenditure for Scot Gov would remain exactly the same while at the same time cutting their operational budget.

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