‘Minimum income of £37,000’ plan for families in independent Scotland – Daily Record

SNP MSP has claimed an independent Scotland could guarantee a couple with children a minimum income of more than £37,000 a year.

Neil Gray admits the plans have not been costed.

But the deputy convener of his party’s flagship Social Justice and Fairness Commission said a future Holyrood Parliament could unite behind a minimum income policy to beat poverty.

He also called for a “greater distribution of wealth” as a way of paying for a more generous social safety net.

The Commission, announced by Nicola Sturgeon in 2019, aims to offer a policy “blueprint to future governments” if Scotland breaks away from the UK.

In an exclusive interview with the Record, Gray said the proposals in the Commission – which also include the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use – have yet to have the costs outlined.

But he points to work by social justice charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to back up one of the Commission’s key ideas, which is for a pilot of a minimum income guarantee. The report says the concept is based on a combination of minimum wage, tax allowances, income-related and other benefits, as well as pensions.

Gray, 35, said: “We very much based our work around the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. I think their figures for a single person were £19,200 a year, and for a couple with children around £18,700 per person a year.

“I think that would provide a far greater investment in people than we are seeing at the moment, and would provide far greater security.”

Asked if he believed an independent Parliament could reach the levels outlined by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, he said: “Yes, I think we could.”

A land value tax and increasing social security payments are also ideas the Commission’s final report said should be considered. Another key call is the eradication of poverty.

Gray gave credit to the last Labour government for cutting poverty levels but said progress on social security under devolution can be undercut by Tory policies such as scrapping the £20 uplift in Universal Credit.

On the economy, an independent Scotland would be likely to start with a large budget deficit and the SNP will face detailed questions on the affordability of the Commission’s recommendations.

Asked if the focus of an independent Scotland would be on deficit reduction, Gray said: “I don’t think it is necessarily going to be that at all.

“The negotiations around creating an independent Scotland, obviously the deficit will be part of that, but we are inheriting a deficit that has been made on our behalf. It’s not been made by us.”

Asked how the Commission’s recommendations will be paid for, Gray said: “We very deliberately said this is not a costed manifesto.”

The report looks at potential tax rises and is positive about the introduction of a land value tax which could hit large estates. Gray said: “There needs to be a greater distribution of wealth in Scotland at the moment. We have a huge amount of wealth tied up in land.”

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