63% of Scots back full devolution of tax & benefits

Some 63% of people in Scotland support the full devolution of both taxes and welfare. picture: PA
Some 63% of people in Scotland support the full devolution of both taxes and welfare. picture: PA
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A MAJORITY of Scots think Holyrood should control all taxes and benefits - and then keep them at a similar level to the rest of the UK, a poll suggests.

Some 63% of people in Scotland support the full devolution of both taxes and welfare, an ICM poll of 1,500 people between November 6 and 12 found.


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However, 43% said they should then keep taxes the same, compared with 17% who said they should go up and 15% who said they should go down.

More than half said unemployment, low income, housing and disability benefits, plus VAT, income tax and the state pension should all remain the same. Around 45% said oil and corporation taxes should stay the same.

The poll reveals a “devolution paradox” with respondents calling for Holyrood to be Scotland’s most influential institution, but a simultaneous desire for policy uniformity across the UK, according to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which commissioned the poll.

Professor Ailsa Henderson, lead author of the report, said: “We can see that there is widespread support for increased powers for the Scottish Parliament in the areas of tax and welfare.

“We shouldn’t assume, however, that this means people want policies that are radically different than those operating elsewhere in the UK.

“It’s part of a familiar devolution paradox: Scots want their Parliament to make key decisions about taxes and welfare, but our survey shows they still want the outcomes of those decisions to keep Scotland in line with policy choices made elsewhere in the UK.

“Obviously, we now know the conclusions of the Smith Commission and people can make their own assessments of the extent to which those conclusions reflect public opinion.”

Behind the scenes of Scotland’s devolution deal

The poll found significant majorities for the devolution of pensions (58%), energy policy (57%) and environmental legislation (62%).

The Scottish Parliament retained sizeable majority support for control in all policy areas except immigration, defence and foreign affairs.

Asked specifically about whether Holyrood or Westminster should have responsibility for a range of individual taxes and benefits, or whether they should share control, Holyrood is the most popular option in all circumstances, followed by “joint control”.

Approximately a quarter to a third of respondents opted for the two institutions to share responsibility across all policy areas.


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