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National Focus: Stories from Scotland

Cancellation of HS2 Affects Scotland

On 4 October, Rishi Sunak announced the cancellation of the HS2 line from Birmingham to Manchester. This impacts Scotland as the HS2 line would have connected to the existing West Coast Main Line, which connects London and Glasgow, with branches to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh. The scrapping of this HS2 line will affect train capacity, and it is this rather than speed which will most affect the economy north of Manchester. Much of the congestion on the West Coast Main Line is between Manchester and Birmingham, which will no longer get a HS2 link. This means long-distance trains have to share track space with local services. Passengers travelling to and from Scotland will therefore face further congestion as the demand for passenger rail increases year after year.

Appeal Over Judge’s Ruling on Definition of ‘Woman’

After Judge Lady Haldane ruled that sex was “not limited to biological or birth sex” in December 2022, For Women Scotland say the definition is “impractical”. Judge Haldane is currently reviewing proposed gender reforms which would streamline the process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate, removing certain obstacles such as medical reports. The case being appealed on 3 October centred on the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act, passed in 2018, which aims to ensure a gender balance on public sector boards. The quota was to include people living as a woman and who had either gone through or intended to undergo the gender recognition process. For Women Scotland argued this contradicted definitions of the 2010 Equality Act. However, Lady Haldane rejected the argument, concluding that, “the revised statutory guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers is lawful”.

490,000 Scots Living in Poverty

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRT) has found that poverty for working people is growing, with the overall number amounting to one in 10 people in Scotland. Women and ethnic minorities are most at risk; working people from a minority ethnic background experienced a rate of poverty three times that of white workers, while 70% of those “trapped in persistent low pay” were women. Furthermore, 60% of children in poverty have at least one working parent.

Housing was found to have had a large impact, with 110,000 people in working families “pulled into poverty due to their housing costs”. The JRT said the UK government was “in denial” over the cost of living crisis and that a “work first” approach and changes to Universal Credit had failed to reduce poverty.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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