Further to the letter by DE (EE, June 17) asking “can an independent Scotland afford to pay pensioners?”, there is also the radical pledge by the SNP to deliver a “universal basic income”.
This is meant to replace the benefits system, including pensions, with “free” cash for every man, woman, and child. This is to be championed as a way to reduce poverty.
This threatens to be exceedingly expensive, which I don’t think has ever been costed by the SNP, but has been independently estimated to cost taxpayers an extra £60 billion.
How will this be funded? I believe the only way is by increasing taxes for all, with probably multiple tax bands up to around 85%. This type of banding would return us to the numerous tax bands of the “good old days”, which had umpteen tax rates up to almost 98p in the pound, and “emergency tax” at 105p/pound. This drove many, especially top earners, to leave the UK.
If this fanciful idea comes to pass, I wonder how many folk would emigrate from an independent Scotland? If they could afford it.
Plea on poverty
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has promised reform of the SQA and action on the recommendations of the OECD review of the Curriculum for Excellence.
Significant narrowing of the attainment gap will only result, however, when Scotland deals more effectively with poverty and deprivation.
Foodbank use among the working poor has grown appreciably during the pandemic and, in a debate on poverty at Holyrood on June 8, Secretary for Social Justice Shona Robison called on Westminster to devolve the necessary employment powers to Holyrood, allowing it to legislate to replace the minimum wage by the living wage.
Ms Robison’s argument would have carried more weight had Holyrood already succeeded in implementing the provisions of the 2016 Scotland Act, giving it powers over a range of benefit payments to supplement universal credit.
This was scheduled for 2021 but the SNP argues that the pandemic had priority.
Dealing successfully with poverty and deprivation is one of the biggest challenges facing Scotland, as it has many knock-on effects on the country.
Dr Walter J MacCulloch, Aberchirder, Huntly