Scottish Parliament Backs Universal Benefits

Michael Matheson MSP

The Scottish Parliament has today voted to confirm its determination to defend the universal services that form part of the Scottish Government’s Social Contract with people in Scotland in the face of budget cuts being imposed by Westminster.

MSPs voted to confirm their opposition to the approach being taken by the Westminster Government and the pressures it is putting on the Scottish budget and re-affirmed its commitment to policies such as free personal care, no tuition fees, concessionary travel, free eye tests and no prescription charges.

A recent opinion poll found that 52% of people in Scotland want the Scottish Parliament to make decisions over all tax and spending and 53% want the Scottish Parliament to make decisions on welfare and pensions policy.

Commenting after the vote, SNP MSP Michael Matheson said:

“Programmes such as free personal care for the elderly, and an education based on the ability to learn rather than the ability to pay, are at the core of the values of Scottish community that binds society in Scotland together.

“These are just some of the policies that make the Scottish parliament so different from the failed austerity agenda of the Westminster Government.

“We are determined to protect these policies in Scotland because they go right to the heart of the values held by people in Scotland.

“The last thing that people in Scotland want their representatives to be doing, is undermining these values yet that is exactly what the opposition Labour, Tory and Liberal politicians seem determined to do.

“Protecting the social contract is something we are able to deliver with the powers currently held by the Scottish Parliament, but it is only with the powers of an independent Scotland that we can ensure that Scotland’s values are at the heart of every decision affecting Scotland.

“That is why a recent opinion poll found a clear majority in favour of the Scottish Parliament making all decisions on taxation and welfare, rather than leaving these critical areas in the hands of Westminster.

“Only a Yes vote in September 2014 will give us the opportunity to make those decisions, and enable us to build the fairer, more prosperous Scotland that we all want to see.”

Notes: Details of the recent poll on where decisions on tax and welfare affecting Scotland should be made were as follows:

Yougov/SNP (Fieldwork: 20th-22nd March 2013)
Sample size: 1105 Scottish adults

Which government do you think should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland, including tax revenues from oil and gas?

The UK government – 35
The Scottish government – 52
Don’t know – 13

Which government do you think would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland?

The UK government – 34
The Scottish government – 53
Don’t know – 13

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