Stephen Boyd’s article, “SNP’s tax plan shows stubborn, blind devotion” (15 February), rightly slams the Scottish Government for its lack of ambition over tax powers it currently holds and may hold in the future.
The key challenge is not about how we get back to pre-recession levels of spending and growth, but how we address one of the most serious flaws in the economic model we seem to be trying to climb back into: the growing inequality gap between rich and poor.
It’s a damning indictment that during the so-called economic boom years, income inequality has grown significantly, with the annual average income of the top 10 per cent in the UK around 12 times higher than that of the bottom 10 per cent, making the UK the fourth most unequal country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development club.
Clearly both the UK and Scottish Governments have a responsibility to ensure that the way we rebuild our economy will bring prosperity to all sections of society. Focusing exclusively on reducing the deficit and GDP growth will not make Scotland a fairer country.
It may well be that a more progressive approach to our tax system could reverse the inequality trend. But where I disagree with Stephen is that this cannot be the responsibility of government alone.
Pensions, ISAs, life insurance, savings and so on all add up to a considerable punch in both the domestic and global investment markets.
Yet how many workers, including members of Scottish TUC-affiliated trade unions, take an active interest in where their money ends up?
Beyond tweaking the risk levels of our investments, do we really exercise our interest in the ethics and utility of our money?
As Stephen points out, we need to get more creative about our future economy.
If we’re going to do this, then we should also be mindful of those who fell on the wrong side of the income gap divide and who are now hit hardest by our austerity drive.
How do we bring them into our re-imagined economy?
It’s not about what powers Scotland has or will get to tackle the economy, but about how we plan to use them.
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations