Welfare: Green MSP highlights opportunities for fairer system

Ahead of today’s Scottish Parliament debate (13 Aug) on welfare, Green MSP Alison Johnstone says that a Yes vote in the independence referendum would give Scotland the chance to rebuild a welfare state that gives people dignity.

Since 2010, 80 per cent of the £15billion cuts to benefits has been taken from women’s incomes, while foodbanks in Scotland have reported seeing 22,000 children in the past year. The Labour opposition at Westminster has said it will go further in slashing the benefits budget.

Changes to tax and benefits have also harmed lone parents more than other household types.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, said:

“By taking responsibility for welfare, the Scottish Parliament could rebuild a compassionate welfare system and explore Green ideas such as a Citizen’s Income. This would reduce red tape and end the stigma associated with receiving benefits.

“The Scottish Government’s Expert Group on Welfare has recognised a citizen’s income is a long term option. Such positive and constructive ideas contrast sharply with the varying flavours of austerity on offer from Westminster.

“We know from the latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey that voters strongly associate independence with reducing inequality. What we have on 18 September is an opportunity to show that a more equal society is possible, one where everyone can live with dignity.”