Independence is the only sure way to deal with the ever-growing gap between Scotland’s rich and poor, two leading figures in the Yes campaign will say today.
Ahead of today’s Oxfam debate on inequality at the Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie, Co-Convener of the Scottish Green Party, both members of Yes Scotland’s Advisory Board, have said that a Yes vote in eight weeks’ time is the key to tackling poverty.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Successive Westminster governments have failed us on poverty. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow wider and wider as the poorest in society are hit hardest by Westminster cuts.
“A Yes vote is the key to tackling poverty in Scotland. With independence, we can bring about real and lasting change.
“Instead of up to 100,000 more children being pushed into poverty by Tory austerity, we can transform childcare to benefit 240,000 children and their families.
“Under the Westminster system, we have seen the percentage of people in Scotland relying on food banks rocket by 400 per cent in the past year. Many of these people are in work – but the cost of living means they can’t put food on the table.
“With a Yes vote we can tackle in-work poverty with the establishment of a Fair Work Commission and a minimum wage that rises at least in line with inflation. If this had been in place over the last five years, the least well-off Scots would today be around £675 a year better off.
“We can also use the powers of independence to ensure a better deal for our older people. Under our plans, new pensioners will be £260 a year better off than they would be under Westminster.
“Taking our future into our own hands with a Yes vote in September will give us the full powers we need to get on with building a better, fairer Scotland.’
Patrick Harvie MSP said: “The benefits system in the UK has abandoned the purpose of human welfare and now has two purposes. One is to bully people into low paid work and the other is to subsidise low pay so that big employers can pay poverty wages, which don’t allow people to live with a bit of dignity.
“We need to re-win the argument for a welfare state where we actually look after all people, where all people’s dignity is important and we don’t use divisive rhetoric that sets up groups of people against each other.
“A country on the scale and size of the UK does have great potential to pool and share resources and, if I’d seen that happening in recent decades, I might have ended up on the other side of the debate, but I’ve seen the opposite happening.
The gap between the richest and the rest grows ever wider. That’s what I want change and Scotland should really take the opportunity to do it for itself.”