SNP should top up benefits, says Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown is to set out a programme for jobs, economic growth and tackling poverty. Picture: Scott Louden
Gordon Brown is to set out a programme for jobs, economic growth and tackling poverty. Picture: Scott Louden
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THE Scottish Parliament should be allowed to use its funds to top up some benefits payments to tackle poverty and injustice, former prime minister Gordon Brown has suggested.

Mr Brown, who played a key role in the referendum campaign, has suggested 17 powers he believes should be transferred north as part of the pledge to deliver further devolution.

The Smith Commission, set up by the UK Government to examine what changes should be made, is due to report back next week.

Speaking ahead of the Commission’s report, Mr Brown called for Holyrood ministers to be given a “very clear power” that would allow them to increase benefit payments north of the border.

The former Labour leader said that transferring powers over areas such as transport, infrastructure, employment, attendance allowance and housing benefit would give Scotland the chance to “formulate policies with the United Kingdom that will actually eliminate poverty and unemployment if we do it right”.

He added: “I want us to think positively, constructively, about the next few years, whatever your views were in the referendum, how we can use the powers that we will have as part of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Brown called on politicians to “bury the divisions of the Yes and No campaign and move forward as one nation”.

He said: “I would give the Scottish Parliament the power to top up social security benefits if that is its wish to use its resources to do so. I do not want another bedroom tax fiasco.

“I would give a very clear power to the Scottish Parliament that it would be able to top up benefits if it thought in the interests of reducing poverty and injustice in this country that it was necessary to do so.”

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP added: “Someone, somewhere, some time soon has got to put to the people of Scotland a programme, a social and economic programme, for bringing Scotland together, for uniting this country, for healing the divisions, for showing how all the energy we saw in the referendum can be best deployed to help create jobs, to create prosperity, improve the life of our communities, improve the social fabric of our cities our towns and our villages, and to deal with the perennial problems we still have to deal with of poverty and deprivation.”

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