Wednesday, 6 July 2011

An Apology To Alex Salmond

Last week I wrote to Alex Salmond accusing him of rehashing the Westminster government's policy The Education Scholarship Scheme because I could find nothing relating to it on the Scottish government's website.

Also I mentioned I had emailed the Scottish government for clarification at the time of writing I had received no reply.

I have now:

Thank you for your email of 26 June regarding financial support for the children of servicemen and woman killed in the line of duty.  As a member of the Higher Education and Learner Support Division I have been asked to reply.
On 24 June the First Minister Alex Salmond announced how further and higher education bursaries will help children of fallen Scottish service personnel. 
This scheme is not in addition to the existing scheme that was launched by the UK Government, the announcement is confirmation that the Scottish Government has taken on financial responsibility for the Bereavement Scholarships scheme which supports Scotland’s armed forces, their families and veterans. 
I hope this answers your query.

That seemed reasonably clear but I decided to telephone the sender to find out more detail.

What will happen is that all applications will be made through the MoD's Service Personnel and Veterans Agency.  The scholarships/bursaries will be paid directly by them; the £1500 for further education to the child's carer and the variable university monies direct to the child.

The SPVA will calculate the amounts paid on the basis of the residency of the child and will invoice the relevant countries (England, Scotland, Wales, N Ireland) for any amount due.  In the case of Scotland the invoice will be paid to the MoD from the Scottish government's education budget.

We can only hope, in this circumstance, the amounts paid by the SG will be negligible.

I regret my translation of the press release issued to the MSM was incorrect, but the statement was camouflaged in political speak: 

That is why we are offering education bursaries to the sons and daughters of military men and women killed in service.

The fact that the scholarships/bursaries is a Westminster policy and the lack of any online explanation from the Scottish government about the reimbursement agreement with the MoD led me to believe this was spin, however a sorry is appropriate now I'm aware of the procedure.

If the press release had been worded more clearly, rather than implying the bursaries were a Scottish government initiative, then the problem would never have arisen. It's my understanding it may have been written in haste which could well account for the misleading statement above.  Couldn't it?

May I conclude by mentioning how helpful the staff at the Broomielaw office of the Scottish government were this afternoon. I was able to speak directly to the person who has been involved in the structure of this MoD policy. They were polite, knowledgeable and patient and last, but not least, obviously very interested in the subject.  You know who you are.


Unknown said...

Once again, language gets obscured passing from brain to paper. I am sure 99.99% of us explain things better verbally.

subrosa said...

That and too much politiking and too little simple English took over a good initiative in this case John.

JRB said...

SR. Your apology and your generosity of thought does you credit.

Unfortunately I remain a little more cynical, and am yet to be convinced that the original announcement was anything other than the “re-hashing / re-branding/ re-spinning of Westmonster policies”

At best the Scottish Government can only be accused of overly convoluted political speak.
They would do well to restricting their announcements to open, honest plain speaking.

I am reminded of a comment I read on an exam paper many, many years ago. It could be easily laid at the door of Holyrood …

Why do they make things so difficult
When, with a little effort
They could make them …
Bloody Impossible

subrosa said...

Well the SG have agreed to reimburse the MoD for any expense for children resident in Scotland JRB. The press release issued was badly worded to say the least.

I don't understand why this was really because the people of Scotland, Wales and N Ireland possibly would feel good that their particular countries were paying for "their ain fowk."

Anonymous said...

You don't have to apologise to Eck...just take him for a curry!

subrosa said...

Whit? Tris that'd cost me a week's pension money. :)

cynicalHighlander said...

OT: in case you missed it.

subrosa said...

I did miss it CH and thank you so much for giving me the link. He never minces his words does he? :)

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