19 April 2013

Labour Fail Welfare Test - Proposals Would Leave Bedroom Tax in Place

The long list of tax and welfare powers that Labour appears set to rule out for Scotland shows that the party is still ‘wildly out of step with the aspirations of people in Scotland’.

Recent media reports make clear that despite polling and other survey evidence showing that a majority of people in Scotland want all tax and welfare decisions to be made by the Scottish Parliament, Labour has already ruled out the devolution of welfare and of substantial tax powers.

North Sea oil & gas tax revenues, corporation tax, VAT, national insurance, alcohol and tobacco duties, inheritance tax and capital gains tax all appear to have been ruled out by Labour’s commission.

Meanwhile, despite public claims to oppose the attacks being made by the Westminster system on the welfare state, Labour has also ruled out devolving welfare policy - consigning people in Scotland to pay the price of policies such as the Bedroom Tax being imposed from Westminster.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, said:

“If these reports are accurate then people in Scotland will be wondering why on earth it is taking Labour so long to come up with such a meagre set of proposals. After all this time, they have produced a constitutional mouse.

“The poverty of ambition being shown by the long list of powers Labour has ruled out for Scotland is simply the latest demonstration that they are wildly out of step with the aspirations of people in Scotland.

"As the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) are pointing out, 71 per cent of the organisations which responded to their survey want welfare policy devolved - yet Labour's leadership have closed their minds to this, meaning that iniquitous and destructive measures such as the Bedroom Tax would still be imposed on Scotland, despite over 90 per cent of Scottish MPs voting against it.

“And given that Labour’s own Finance Spokesperson recently accepted that Scotland is not subsidised in any way, it is indefensible for Labour to still want to deny people in Scotland the benefit of our nation's resources.

“The claim that Westminster’s welfare system ‘has served us well’ simply beggars belief at a time when hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland are facing the brutal reality of the Tories’ welfare cuts.

“If Labour is happy for welfare decisions to be made in Westminster, then they cannot escape the fact that they are also happy for deeply unfair measures like the Bedroom Tax to be imposed on households across Scotland. The parties in the No campaign prefer bad government from Westminster to good government with independence.

“Recent polling has shown a clear majority want all tax and welfare decisions for Scotland to be made by Scotland’s parliament.

“It is only with a Yes vote in next September’s referendum that we will gain the powers we need to shape a tax and welfare system that reflects Scotland’s values, and will enable us build the fairer, more prosperous country we all want to live in.”

Stewart Stevenson
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