SNP unveils radical social justice policies for an independent Scotland

SNP plans for an independent Scotland could see the decriminalisation of drug use and the introduction of a land value tax as a replacement for council tax, a new report has said.

The SNP’s Social Justice and Fairness Commission, established in 2019 and led by newly-appointed social justice secretary Shona Robison, was created to develop how an independent Scotland could “tackle poverty and create a fairer society”.

The report argues for a pilot of Universal Basic Income and the Minimum Income Guarantee as a way of reducing poverty in Scotland, alongside other radical policy demands.

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The SNP have published their Social Justice and Fairness commission report
The SNP have published their Social Justice and Fairness commission report
The SNP have published their Social Justice and Fairness commission report
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On drug use, the commission states that it supports a “safe consumption model” once Scotland is independent and adds a citizen’s assembly could look at further policy around addiction such as decriminalisation.

It adds the Scottish Government should explore “every avenue” to allow safe consumption rooms and spaces through existing Holyrood powers and expand further residential rehab.

The implementation of a ‘land value tax’, which would see the value of land rather than of buildings or infrastructure taxed by the government and payable by the landowner rather than the tenant, should replace council tax, the commission argues.

Abolishing council tax has been a key tenet of SNP policy in the past, including when it was first elected under former first minister Alex Salmond in 2007, but the Scottish Government has failed to progress plans to reform the tax.

The commission also suggests the implementation of “sin taxes” where taxes on items such as alcohol, tobacco, or environmentally harmful activities are imposed in a bid to change behaviour and raise revenue in the process.

It also calls for an “excess profits tax”, which would see sectors which have benefited from the pandemic such as online commerce pay extra.

Criticising the “hugely damaging” UK Government ‘hostile environment’, the report adds that migration into Scotland should “encourage and enable long-term settlement” in Scotland, aiming to attract people across Europe and the world to move to the country.

Speaking to the Daily Record, SNP MSP and commission member Neil Gray said: “Alongside all those who contributed to the commission, I believe we have delivered a blueprint, a route map to a more socially just Scotland, one that focuses on how we should make policy decisions that can help us build a fairer and happier society.

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“The proposals we set out are only options. Whether all or any of them are taken forward are political decisions and choices for future governments in Scotland to make.

"The time and pace of any such change will be determined by future Scottish governments, according to the circumstances of the day.

“And while we consider the opportunities in the short term and what is achievable with the powers of devolution, the report has a clear focus on how much more we can achieve with independence.

“Clearly, the balance of priorities and resources are key to decision making, now and after independence.

“It is not always possible to do everything at the same time, so while there is appetite for swift progress, we have attempted to offer some insight into what we believe our earliest priorities should be. We have also set out a number of general ambitions we would like Scotland to pursue, but which will probably take a little longer.”

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