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18 June 2014

Local MSP Welcomes Plans to Tackle Poverty

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the publication of the Expert Working Group on Welfare which sets out a number of positive recommendations to improve the welfare system and tackle low pay after a YES vote.

The report suggests that the National Minimum Wage in an independent Scotland should be increased to equal the Living Wage – with the payment of Employers’ National Insurance being reduced in order to help businesses make the transition.

The increase in the National Minimum Wage would have a particularly positive impact on women, who are disproportionately likely to work in low-paid jobs, and builds on the SNP’s existing commitment to ensure the minimum wage rises at least in line with inflation after a YES vote.

Mr Stevenson said:

“This report is a welcome confirmation of the different path we can take with a Yes vote – rather than using the welfare state to punish the poorest people in my constituency, we can use it as a way to tackle poverty and as a springboard to a better life.

“The report’s recommendation that the minimum wage should be a living wage is particularly welcome.

“Too many people in Banffshire & Buchan Coast constituency, most of them women, are struggling to make ends meet in low-paying jobs. After a Yes vote we can take action to tackle the scandal of in-work poverty and ensure that people across Scotland are guaranteed the living wage – a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

Amongst a range of other recommendations, the report suggests that the link between benefits and the cost of living should be re-established, which would see benefits and tax credits increasing annually based on the Consumer Prices Index of inflation.

The Expert Working Group also recommends that the Work Capability Assessment and the current system of sanctions – for which the DWP has faced widespread criticism – should be scrapped as part of moves to make the welfare system fairer.

Mr Stevenson added:

“The UK is already the fourth most unequal society in the developed world – and with Westminster’s welfare cuts and austerity agenda continuing to bite the situation is only going to get worse.

“For many people in Scotland, the No campaign’s promises on welfare are an insult – the reality is cuts in benefits for women, children and the disabled.

“With a Yes vote we will have the powers we need to implement these plans to improve our welfare system, tackle poverty and create a more equal society – where vulnerable people are supported by the welfare system rather than penalised and where in-work poverty is a thing of the past.”
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