Lib Dems School Cuts Warning After Yes Vote

Schools could face a £780 million cut in an independent Scotland, senior Liberal Democrats have claimed.

A Yes vote could lead to the loss of 8,680 teaching jobs as well as school closures, increased class sizes and cuts to equipment, according to Scottish leader Willie Rennie.

He was joined on the campaign trail today by Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

Citing figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on a visit to the north-east, Mr Rennie said local communities would suffer from an "independence cuts crisis''.

He said: "As part of the UK, local authorities spend around £4.6 billion on education every year.

"The independent IFS has projected that an independent Scotland would be required to slash public services in order to manage spiralling public sector debt.

"A 17% cut to public services in the event of a Yes vote, as estimated by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, would cut £780 million from schools. This would need to be found in cuts to teacher numbers, school mergers and closures, increased class sizes and cuts to vital equipment like computers.''

Speaking in Edinburgh, Mr Carmichael called on the First Minister to "get real'' with the Scottish electorate.

He said: "Alex Salmond has spent the past week talking up the process of the campaign when voters deserve to know about the substance.

"This is a risk which we do not need to take as part of the UK. We can have the powers we need to shape our education system without the risk, cost and uncertainty of independence.''

Mr Alexander, who was also in the north-east, added: "Liberal Democrats have always been champions for their local community. Alex Salmond's independence plans would leave our local services facing tough decisions they simply do not have to make as part of the UK.

"There is a better way to secure that better nation we all want to see. It's to have more decisions being made here in Scotland, by Scots. With a stronger Scottish Parliament, with more powers guaranteed.''

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