Sarwar and Leonard clash over benefits

Pictured Anas Sarwar.
Pictured Anas Sarwar.
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The two men battling it out to replace Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader have clashed over universal benefits and the party’s performance at the general election.

Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard set out their views at a hustings event in Edinburgh.

Mr Sarwar said he wanted to go beyond Labour’s existing plans to increase child benefit by £5 a week and introduce a Scottish Child Tax Credit, with £10 payments targeted at the poorest youngsters.

He said: “I want us to use the powers we have in our parliament to target support at those who need it most. Why should every child get a £5 uplift in child benefit when we can target £10 to the poorest and most vulnerable people?”

But Mr Leonard said child benefit should on principle be a universal payment. “The redistribution we need to see should come trough the tax system. Once you start getting into a position of means-testing or targeting, all kinds of people who should get the benefit simply will not get the benefit at all.”