An independent Scotland would be unable to support its own welfare system, Government insists
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 24 April 2014
Vulnerable people would be put at risk in an independent Scotland because they would lose the safety net of a UK-wide welfare system, Coalition ministers have warned.
In its latest analysis paper on the impact of a Yes vote in September’s referendum, the Government claimed that spending on benefits per head of the population in Scotland is 2 per cent higher than in the UK as a whole – and has been as much as 9 per cent higher in the past. But the Scottish National Party dismissed the report as “scaremongering” and accused ministers of “hypocrisy”.
Meanwhile, the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, said in a St George’s Day speech in Carlisle that an independent Scotland would look to build a high-speed rail link to the south. “Rather than paying our share of the borrowing costs for high-speed rail, as we wait decades for it to spread up from the South, we can use that money to build high-speed rail from the North instead,” he said.
The Government analysis paper argues that the Scottish people enjoy “the best of both worlds”. Housing and skills policy are devolved so that local solutions can be found, while employment and social security remain with central government so that employers and job seekers can benefit from a UK-wide network of job centres.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the Westminster coalition had a right-wing tendency
Ministers warn it would cost a breakaway Scotland about £200m a year to provide this support for the unemployed. They threaten to ban an independent Scotland from “sharing” the UK’s benefits system if it wanted to have different policies, as the extra costs and risks “would not be in the interests of the Government”. If Scotland opted for its own system, the IT start-up costs alone would be between £300m and £400m, the report claims.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “As part of the UK, Scottish people benefit from this resilient and unified system – which delivers the same support everywhere irrespective of peaks and troughs in economies of the nations or demographic differences.
“Proposals by the Scottish Government would risk the well-being of vulnerable people who are currently supported by this system.”
But Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, said: “Welfare spending and pensions are more affordable in Scotland than the UK because they account for a smaller proportion of our tax revenues and national income.”
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Khorasan: Muhsin al-Fadhli - the man leading a terror group more feared by US officials than Isis
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Alicia Keys leaks own nude photo 'to create a kinder and more peaceful world'
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for an experienced Che...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Workers x 3 Greater Manches...