VIRTUE signalling has come to characterise politics today. Proclaiming things you support, will eradicate or achieve, with a smattering of vapid slogans.

The end result is generally hot air, with no demonstrable change or delivery. Fantasy politics instead of good governance and hard graft to create things that make a difference to people’s lives.

Over the weekend, we learned – following an evaluation by economic consultants Ekos – that the Scottish Government may have to return £450 million to the EU in terms of European Social Fund and Regional Development Fund monies in programmes that ran until this month.

Scotland is expected to return almost one third of its EU money that was allocated to anti-poverty and employability projects and support for small/medium businesses. Why? A lack of proper management in allocating funds and inaccurate and unreliable data recorded on project spend.

We’ve been here before. Following the Covid pandemic, Audit Scotland found large swathes of the £4.4 billion of grants and non-domestic rate reliefs that were provided by the Scottish Government couldn’t be accounted for due to a lack of data and audit recording.

In contrast, Wales looks set to return 9 per cent of its EU money, England 6 per cent and Northern Ireland 2 per cent. Why are we paying higher taxes in Scotland when vast sums of public money are routinely wasted?

Why have a very expensive devolved administration and parliament if the quality of law reform often means many bills are more virtue signalling than meaningful change?

This Thursday, the Bankruptcy and Diligence (Scotland) Bill will undergo its final Stage 3 consideration. If passed as drafted, it won’t make much of a difference to those in serious financial hardship in Scotland.

Some significant amendments have been tabled for this Thursday and it would be great to see MSPs working constructively to make a difference and put country before party.

Paul O’Kane MSP has a proposal that would give Scottish Ministers the power to make regulations for pre-action requirements (PAR) for council tax arrears recovery. PAR would require an individual to be directed to free debt, money and legal advice before a summary warrant was granted by the sheriff.

He also proposes a requirement for the protected minimum amount for bank account arrestments to be uprated annually – it currently protects the first £1,000 in someone’s bank account – so you have some funds to live on.

Colin Smyth MSP has an amendment for the Scottish Government to consult and review what funds can be attached in a bank account arrestment within the next year.

A new earning arrestment model is proposed which would mean those with net earnings of less than £1,000 per month would pay nothing on that sum and those earning between £1,000 to £1,600 will pay slightly less than they do at present.

People would have a greater ability to make an application to a creditor for a wage arrestment to be reduced because of a change in their circumstances.

It is proposed that earnings and bank account arrestments should be served digitally or by post where possible. This would reduce sheriff officer fees on people’s debts.

Maggie Chapman MSP’s amendment would ensure that, where someone’s bank account only consisted of welfare benefits, those funds could not be arrested and that any charge for payment must be served digitally or by post where possible.