Budget views

SCOTLAND'S finance secretary will have to slash £1.7 billion from Holyrood spending because of budget cuts imposed by Westminster.

But as the minister ponders his strategy, Extra readers share opinions on what could be saved and what should be protected.

A priority for retention is the national health service: feelings were mixed about benefits and the efficiency of local government.

Retired engineer Stewart Douglas from Newton Mearns says cutting waste is "the most important thing to do".

The 67-year-old observed: "There are clearly a lot of people out there getting benefits when they don't need or deserve them.

"That only harms the economy".

Sheila Mills (68) from Eaglesham suggested: "They need to start by working out what is most important.

"Council houses and the NHS need to be looked after first and foremost".

We met social worker and father of two Athar Akram (38) out shopping with his son Adam (7) and daughter Zara (9).

The 38-year-old from Newton Mearns said: "They should start by cutting down on council houses.

"The NHS is the resource which needs to be protected, however. The government could look more closely at waste of prescription drugs".

Shop assistant Liz Brown (56) added: "MSPs need to look at themselves — they are a drain on the budget.

"Now Holyrood is adding a 12 million security extension. It's beyond a joke when everybody else is cutting back".

Ronnie Munn who is retired, chairs Eastwood Rotarians and offered a personal insight. The 75-year-old remarked: "My wife has been in hospital for 16 months. In that time I have been astonished by the amount of waste by the NHS.

"It gives out too much medication and then, even if it's unopened, won't take it back.

"Local government is just as bad. Nobody knows who is doing what".

Shop assistant Carol Tait (48) from Giffnock struck a cautionary and warned: "They have to be careful. Cuts can do more harm for the economy in the long run.

"I hope they don't make any rash decisions – they would save money in the long run if they invested more money in the NHS".