SNP to set out its plans for benefits in an independent Scotland

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says the government could go further if it was independent
Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.
Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.

The Scottish Government is set to unveil its next independence paper later this week - this time on social security.

This is the ninth paper in the government’s Building a New Scotland series, which sets out the SNP’s vision for what an independent Scotland will look like.

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The paper will be officially launched on Wednesday 6 December, and will outline how the government could go “even further” on ensuring everyone has a decent standard of living if it was no longer part of the UK.

This comes after three of these independence papers were published in the last month alone - on migration, Scotland’s relationship with the EU, and the marine sector.

Speaking ahead of the paper being unveiled, Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The Scottish Parliament has shown how Scotland can make different choices and deliver a fairer system with more positive outcomes.

“Independence would provide us with an opportunity to go further and transform the way benefits are delivered in this country.

“With independence, we could ensure everyone has a decent standard of living and provide a strong safety net people could turn to when times are financially tough.”

Ms Somerville says the current UK system fails to provide an adequate level of support, and says this has led to the UK having higher poverty rates than their European counterparts.

She added: “With limited powers, the Scottish Government has introduced transformative policies such as the Scottish child payment, which is estimated to lift 50,000 children out of relative poverty in 2023/24.

“However, it is only with the full powers of independence that we could use the full fiscal and economic levers to tackle poverty in Scotland.”

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The decision to publish the paper has been criticised by Scotland in Union, who say people are “not daft” and will see through the government’s proposals.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “It is crystal clear that the SNP/Green government is churning out these papers one after the other to try and distract voters from the scandals and the failures of our public services being reported every day.

“But people are not daft and will see right through this.

“As part of the UK, we have more to spend on social security as we pool and share resources and risk across the entire country.

“And when it comes to the social security powers devolved after the referendum, the Scottish Government took years and years to enact them, repeatedly asking the UK Government to continue provision - and the process still hasn’t been completed.

“The government’s previous papers have utterly failed to answer the most basic questions about leaving the UK, so if this one is to have any credibility it will explain the massive upheaval of breaking up our welfare state and the very real risk to pensions and benefits.”



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