Welfare

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FOR INDEPENDENCE FOR THE UNION

Welfare policy

In each of the last five years, social protection expenditure has been lower in Scotland than the UK. Social protection expenditure accounted for 15.5 per cent of GDP in Scotland and 16.0 per cent in the UK in 2012-13. Scottish expenditure has consistently been below the EU-15 average from 2005 to 2012[1].

Scottish Government proposals

A new approach is more urgent because of Westminster policies[2]. The Scottish Government envisages a welfare system based on support for people who work; a safety net for people who cannot work; and a climate of social solidarity. The immediate priorities will be to abolish the “bedroom tax” within the first year of independence, halt the further roll out of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments, and ensure that benefits and tax credits increase at least in line with inflation[3].

The Scottish Government's Expert Working Group on Welfare Reform made recommendations, several of which the Government has said it will implement in the event of a Yes vote. The Group states that, in the short to medium term, the changes it proposed will not have a significant financial impact on annual benefit expenditure in Scotland[4].

So-called Bedroom Tax

This "tax" (loss of spare room subsidy) will result in Westminster saving £50 million per year in Scotland but it will cost the Scottish economy around £50 million per year. There will also be one-off losses of around £29 million in Scotland. [5].

References

  1. Scottish Government's Expert Working Group of Welfare Second Report.
  2. Scotland's Future: Chapter 4 Health, Wellbeing and Social Protection
  3. Scotland's Future, Summary p 12
  4. Expert Working Group, supra, para 6.2
  5. Based on initial analysis[1] updated to reflect actual rather than projected impacts

Welfare policy

Welfare policy, if the union continues, will depend on the government in power at Westminster. If there is a change of party in power, some of the present policies, such as the bedroom tax (see below) will be reversed.

Scottish Government Proposals

So-called Bedroom Tax

Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party, has said: "If we win the next election, I will scrap the Bedroom Tax"[1]. . The Liberal Democrats have called for a reform of the "Bedroom Tax" based on "clear" evidence that the policy was not working[2]

References

  1. https://www.labour.org.uk/i-will-scrap-the-bedroom-tax
  2. .ITV News 17 July 2014