Financial power for Holyrood

Tuesday September 13th, 2011

A think tank has suggested that Holyrood could be given wide-ranging tax-raising powers without Scotland leaving the UK.

Under the ‘devolution plus’ plan put forward by Reform Scotland the current block grant from the UK would be abolished, giving the Scottish Parliament sole responsibility for raising the money it spends.

The plan would see most welfare benefits being transferred, but responsibility for state pensions, sickness and maternity pay would remain with Westminster.

The proposals are part of a submission to Holyrood’s inquiry into the Scotland Bill, which aims to increase the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Reform Scotland said MSPs currently control 60% of public spending in Scotland but are responsible for raising less than 7% of funding.

The Scotland Bill would allow Holyrood to take charge of half of the income tax raised in Scotland. However, Reform Scotland believes that does not go far enough and wants wider tax-raising powers to be handed to Holyrood.

Spokesman Ben Thomson said £19.9bn was spent on social protection in Scotland in 2009-10, of which only £113m was controlled by the administration in Edinburgh.

The Scotland Bill seeks to bring in legislation which would transfer more responsibility to Holyrood, including some £12bn of financial powers.

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