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Third Sector Support:
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GCVS Briefing

Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland

The much awaited white paper on Scottish Independence was launched by the Scottish Government in Glasgow on Tuesday 26th November.  Billed by First Minister, Alex Salmond, as the “mostcomprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent nation”, the paper sets out the case for Scotland’s secession from the UK.  It  sets out a positive vision for a Scotland which is both fairer and wealthier, with free full-time childcare for children from the age of one, a measure which should benefit families and women in particular and which will allow more women to return to work following childbirth. Below are some of the other key points set out in the paper.

Following a vote in favour of independence:

General

  • The first government of an independent Scotland will be formed in 2016.
  • Scotland will remain a member of the European Union.
  • Trident will be removed from the Clyde by 2020.
  • There will be no border checks with England; Scotland will remain part of the Common Travel Area.
  • A Scottish passport will be introduced.
  • There will be increased support for energy efficiency.
  • Free access to higher education would continue.
  • The pound will be retained as the national currency.
  • The Queen would remain as monarch.

Childcare

  • Childcare provision will be extended: by 2024 children from age one will be entitled to 1,140 hours of full-time state funded childcare.

Human rights

  • There will be consultation with communities, the third sector, public authorities, business and trade unions on proposals to strengthen and extend measures to protect human rights
  • A points-based immigration system will be introduced.

Third Sector

  • The Scottish Government will continue to work with and support the third sector
  • There will be a key role for civil society and the third sector in developing Scotland’s constitution.
  • The role for the sector in the design and delivery of services will be continued.
  • The involvement of the third sector in the fields of skills and employability will be extended.
  • The National Lottery and Camelot will be retained.
  • Given that the Scottish Government will have full control over taxes, there will be consideration of taxes and charitable giving.
  • More will be done to assist the sector’s growth, effectiveness and sustainability.

Tax

  • The development of a simpler, more transparent tax system, although there will be no immediate changes to income tax following independence.
  • The system will be designed to reduce tax avoidance.
  •  Corporation tax will be reduced.
  • Small businesses will be supported.

Employment

  • The minimum wage will rise in line with inflation.
  • Promotion of the Living Wage will continue.
  • Enhanced employment protections for workers will be introduced.

Public Services

  • There will be improved public services, benefiting from the reduced scale of functions currently carried out on a UK wide basis.

Welfare

  • A more appropriate welfare system will be developed, which reflects social justice, fairness, respect and dignity.
  • The bedroom tax will be abolished.
  • The rollout of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments will be halted.
  • Housing benefit will again become a separate payment, paid directly to social landlords.
  • Individuals will again be supported and the Single Household Payment system will be repealed.
  • The earnings disregard between first and second earners will be equalised.
  • Benefits and tax credits will increase in line with inflation.
  • There will also be support for those who cannot undertake paid work, which the Scottish Government says should “not relegate them to a life of financial uncertainty and poverty”.

The 670 page document has been roundly criticised by those in the “Better Together” campaign, with their leader, Alistair Darling, stating that the paper is a “work of fiction, full of meaningless assertions”.  There have also been questions over whether retaining Sterling would be workable, or whether the rest of the UK would allow it and also over Scotland’s automatic membership of the EU.

SCVO Chief Executive, Martin Syme said: “This is a progressive government which supports the work of charities and third sector organisations, and shares many of our values. This shows in the White Paper but equality and social justice will always have to be fought for, independence or not.”

Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland

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