The number of looked after children in Scotland has declined for the fourth year in a row.
Retail Sales Down 2%
Retailers face an "incredibly challenging'' trading environment, with total sales in August 2.4% down on last year, according to a new report.
The SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor said that sales last month were weak compared with August 2014 when they were boosted by events like the end of the Commonwealth Games.
Like-for-like sales, which exclude any spending in stores which opened or closed in the intervening year, decreased by 2.9% on last August, when they had decreased by 1.7%.
When adjusted for deflation measured by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index (SPI), total Scottish sales decreased by 1.1%.
There was also a drop in total food sales and total non-food sales.
David Martin, head of policy and social affairs at the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), said: ``Despite an uptick in consumer confidence, August sales performance pales in comparison to the like-for-like performance a year earlier when major events, like the finale to the Commonwealth Games, helped to drive footfall.
"Although retailers had a tougher time during August getting consumers to spend, the three-month rolling average for total sales was the best recorded since May and suggests a general improvement across the longer-term.
"Nevertheless, the trading environment remains incredibly challenging for retailers, especially for those selling food.''
Total food sales last month were 3% down on August 2014, when they had decreased by 1.8%, and an improvement on July this year.
When adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales in Scotland, total non-food sales decreased by 0.5% on August 2014, when they had increased by 2.8%, their second fastest growth in 2014, excluding Easter distortions.
The three-month average for total non-food sales growth was 0.6% (online adjusted) in Scotland compared to 3% in the UK as a whole.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "High street sales in Scotland were weak on all fronts during August with very little glimmer amidst the gloom.
"Despite being against a relatively strong post-Commonwealth Games, pre-referendum comparative for August 2014, the decline in sales in August is worse than both the three-month and the 12-month averages.
"The usual culprit to blame for poor sales - the weather - was not at fault this month as both temperatures and sunshine hours were at or above average for the month.''
The integration of transport policing into the national force will not put at risk counter-terrorism in Scotland, the Justice Secretary has said.
Waiting times for cancer patients have been described as "unacceptable'' by charities after new figures revealed key targets have been missed again.
MSPs are expected to back Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum in a vote at Holyrood today.
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