THE existing devolution settlement has failed to deliver for key services and parts of Scotland’s economy, a new report from a high-profile campaign group has claimed.
A study from Devo Plus, a campaign group calling for more tax powers for Holyrood, claims that since 1999 crucial areas such as fuel poverty, drug addiction and homelessness have either worsened or failed to see any real improvement.
The report says that not enough progress has been made in eight out of 16 policy areas, which also include alcohol abuse and crime, because of what the group claims is a lack of economic powers held by the Scottish Parliament.
Jeremy Purvis, leader of the Devo Plus campaign, said that Holyrood needed the bulk of tax powers to be devolved from Westminster to tackle what he claimed were the policy failures.
He claimed that making the Scottish Parliament responsible for raising all the money it spends would improve accountability and lead to taxpayers’ cash being spent more effectively.
Meanwhile, Mr Purvis said that the report, Better Social Outcomes for Scotland, used Scottish and UK government figures on health, housing, crime and poverty to measure how well services had performed.
He described the findings as “sobering” after they also suggested that the current devolution settlement had failed to deliver on support for lone- parent families and some parts of the child protection service.
The report, which will be published later this month, said of the 13 years of devolution that “there is such a mixed picture, and our conclusion is clear that in order to secure better social outcomes in Scotland we need wider fiscal powers and incentives for improvement”.
Mr Purvis said: “We’ve taken 16 indicators that are used by the Scottish and UK governments to sum up the performance in areas such as housing and criminal justice. The findings make for sobering reading to make meaningful change and the Scottish Parliament needs more fiscal levers.
“Devo-plus would make the Scottish Parliament more accountable and help spread the benefit of the tax burden and delivery. It would lead to a much more meaningful debate on Scottish Parliament promises. It would be unable to just blame the UK government.
“The devolution of these tax powers means that the choices would be funded in Scotland and accountable to Scotland.”
However, SNP MSP John Wilson, the deputy convener of Holyrood’s economy committee, claimed that the powers Devo Plus wanted for Holyrood would not lead to the improvements in services that the campaign’s leaders claimed.
He said: “The difficulty for the Devo Plus campaign is that Scotland will never have enough powers short of independence.”