An independent Scotland would be unable to support its own welfare system, Government insists

 

political editor

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 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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£37500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Quantity Surveyor r...

Recruitment Genius: Digital & Print Designer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast-growing company speci...

Recruitment Genius: IT Analyst

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Riding of Yorkshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Ridi...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable