Scottish independence: Shared benefits system warning

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FORMER SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has warned that plans to share the UK’s welfare and benefits system for a transitional period after independence could destroy the chance of a Yes vote.

Mr Sillars, who served as Alex Salmond’s deputy leader, said that “savage” welfare and benefit cuts from the UK government could have boosted the Yes vote in next year’s referendum.

He said that it would be “very foolish” for the SNP to campaign on a platform of “change but no change” in the build-up to the vote on Scotland leaving the UK.

The warning came after an expert group, established by the Scottish Government, recommended that the current system for administering pensions and benefits should continue for a transitional period under independence.

Mr Salmond last week insisted that the UK government’s controversial bedroom tax would be abolished within a year of a Yes vote and that an independent Scotland would be able to pursue its own welfare policies.

Mr Sillars said: “So far, we’ve only had 10 per cent of the cuts that government will need to introduce to tackle the national debt, 90 per cent of those cuts are coming after 2015. So we would be entering a period of very savage cuts, with quite a serious effect on the lives of disabled people.”

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