An independent Scotland could not afford to pay its welfare bill without cutting services or raising taxes, the UK Work and Pensions Secretary has said.
Speaking before an address in Glasgow, Conservative minister Iain Duncan Smith said a break-up of the Union would leave Scotland unable to meet the cost of getting people into employment or adequately supporting those who cannot work.
Mr Duncan Smith is to deliver a speech on the UK Government’s controversial welfare reform plans. He will discuss the impact of the proposed universal credit system and is expected to touch on the independence debate.
Welfare spending is 6% higher north of the border, he said, and warned that North Sea oil and gas revenues would not meet the costs.
“Due to the reliance on the old heavy industries in many parts of the country, it makes perfect sense that we need to spend more money per head of population on welfare support in Scotland. I have no problem with that,” he said.
Read more at The Scotsman online
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Michael Settle | The Herald
THE government of an independent Scotland would have to raise taxes or cut services to maintain welfare pay-ments, Iain Duncan Smith said as he defended his Universal Credit plan, which he said would make 100,000 Scots better off.
As the Coalition came under fire for considering linking hikes in benefit payments to average pay rather than inflation, the Work and Pensions Secretary – in Glasgow for a welfare reform conference – defended his plan to replace a string of benefits with a single payout called Universal Credit, stressing how “only the Union could offer this sort of wholesale reform”.
He said: “Due to the reliance on the old heavy industries in many parts of the country, it makes perfect sense that we need to spend more money per head of population on welfare support in Scotland; I have no problem with that.
“In fact, I am glad that we are in a position to do it. Thankfully, due to the United Kingdom and the commitment of the Westminster Government, we are able to ensure that money brought in whether it be from the City of London or from North Sea oil can be pooled and directed to wherever it is needed most. That is what being in the United Kingdom is all about.
“If the unthinkable were to happen, a Scottish Government would face a very stark choice of raising taxes or cutting services.”
Read more at The Herald online
Ian Bell | The Herald
Whoever decided that it was a good idea to have David Cameron outline his pitiless attitude towards welfare just as Alistair Darling was advertising the benefits of Union had not exactly thought things through.
The contrast was stark, the message unmistakeable. If the Tory Prime Minister has his way the Britain lauded by the former Labour Chancellor will shortly cease to exist, referendum or no referendum. Benefits and social security – the welfare state – are top of the list of reserved powers in schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998. No amount of tinkering with devolution will alter the fact.