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What makes you think an independent Scotland will be a fairer country?

The sort of country we become will be up to the people of Scotland. Scotland has the wealth it needs to be a fairer country. We are one of the richest nations on the planet and could choose to use that wealth in a different way than Westminster. For example, we can choose to invest in childcare instead of spending money on defence. We can choose not to impose the “bedroom tax” and to have a more efficient tax system that ensures everyone pays up their fair share. With independence we can make different choices in line with our values and the views of the people of Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will independence mean Scotland will become a fairer society?

One of the main reasons for independence is to give Scotland the powers to make our society fairer. Scotland can make our wealth work better for the people living here and follow a different path from Westminster. The UK is now one of the ten least equal countries in the OECD. It ranks 28th out of 34 on a measure of overall inequality. OECD analysis shows that, since 1975, income inequality among working-age people has increased faster in the UK than in any other country in the organisation.

Academic analysis comparing the earnings of the worst off and those best off has found that the UK was the fourth most unequal nation amongst the world’s richest countries.

These outcomes are not the result of the policies of one government, but of almost 40 years of decisions at Westminster. With independence, Scotland can make decisions on tax, welfare and employment that help the poorest in our society, not make life worse for them.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How might a Scottish approach to tackling poverty be different?

This Government will not follow the same approach being adopted by Westminster which chooses to reduce support for one million Scottish households. We believe that Scotland is wealthy enough to make Scotland fairer, if we so choose. Key measures this Government proposes include:

  • introducing a universal early learning and childcare system for all children aged one to school entry

  • abolishing the “bedroom tax”

  • reducing heating bills

  • making improvements to the State Pension

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How could an independent Scotland avoid poverty arising, as well as redressing its effects?

The political make up of the Scottish Parliament is very different from that at Westminster, where policy choices over the past forty years have resulted in an overall increase in income inequality and, most recently, with the majority of people seeing their living standards squeezed. For example, there is a consensus in the Scottish Parliament around issues like the living wage, which means more people in Scotland will receive fair reward for their hard work and efforts.

It is unlikely that a Scottish Parliament with powers over welfare and taxation would have introduced the “bedroom tax” or reduced the personal allowance for pensioners. Scotland is already taking a different path to reducing poverty by addressing the underlying causes, helping people before they reach crisis point and helping people to help themselves.

The Scottish package of universal support, including free personal care, concessionary travel, free prescriptions and the Council Tax freeze, supports those on low incomes most.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.