An SNP government would abolish the controversial “bedroom tax” within a year of Scottish independence.
First Minister Alex Salmond’s pledge came after an expert group recommended that the current system for administering pensions and benefits should continue for a transitional period under independence.
However, Mr Salmond insisted that the government of an independent Scotland would have the powers to end the tax, which imposes a levy on welfare claimants living in under-occupied homes.
Mr Salmond made the pledge at First Minister’s Questions after Labour leader Johann Lamont attacked the proposals for the existing welfare system to be continued after Scotland left the UK.
Ms Lamont said retaining the welfare system, together with plans to keep the pound as an independent Scotland’s currency, would “hinge on the goodwill of a country we would just have made a foreign one by voting to leave it”.
Ms Lamont said: “The truth is that the UK would control our currency, our economy and now our pensions.”
However, the SNP leader insisted that if Scotland left the UK it would still be possible for the administration of the welfare system to be shared while introducing different policies north of the Border.
Mr Salmond said: “Labour has no plans to reverse the bedroom tax. In contrast, this government will abolish the bedroom tax if we are elected as the first government of an independent Scotland.
“Not only will we abolish it, we will do it in the first year of that independent Scotland.”
A UK government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government’s position on welfare is increasingly unclear. Wanting to leave the UK but keep the UK welfare system while operating different policies makes no sense.”