The time for grudge and grievance is over. It’s time now to build a bet­ter na­tion

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reformer View - Holy­rood Head­lines

Last month we saw the pub­li­ca­tion of the Smith Com­mis­sion, which will de­liver more pow­ers to the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment over tax and wel­fare.

Holy­rood will set all rates and bands for per­sonal in­come tax, con­trol the pro­grammes which get un­em­ployed peo­ple into jobs, and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for £2.5 bil­lion worth of wel­fare ben­e­fits.

That means we can raise the top rate of tax to 50p, mean­ing that those who can af­ford it pay a lit­tle more, while those who have least should not see the lit­tle they have, in money and ser­vices, taken away from them.

The pro­pos­als also mean a huge de­vo­lu­tion of wel­fare pow­ers to al­low us to pro­tect the vul­ner­a­ble, in­clud­ing, Dis­abil­ity Liv­ing Al­lowance, Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ment, Attendance Al­lowance, Car­ers Al­lowance, Mota­bil­ity Al­lowance, the Cold Weather Pay­ment, the Win­ter Fuel Pay­ment, the Sure Start Grant and more.

The so­cial union of Pen­sions, So­cial Se­cu­rity and Child Ben­e­fit which Scots sup­ported when they voted No to in­de­pen­dence will re­main, but the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will be able to cre­ate new ben­e­fits, a Scot­tish Wel­fare Sys­tem built on those foun­da­tions.

Scots will be guar­an­teed the support they need when they are el­derly, un­em­ployed or rais­ing a fam­ily, but the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will be able to make tax fairer, the work pro­gramme more ef­fec­tive, and peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­ity or long term ill­ness treated with greater re­spect and dig­nity.

The Smith pro­pos­als are the big­gest trans­fer of pow­ers since a Labour Gov­ern­ment de­liv­ered the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment in 1999.

The Scot­tish Par­lia­ment will be re­spon­si­ble for rais­ing over 60 per cent of the money it will spend, trans­form­ing it into a pow­er­house par­lia­ment, with more power than almost any other de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tion in the world.

We should also not for­get, that this was a cross party con­sen­sus. It is un­usual to see Scot­tish Labour and the SNP reach an agree­ment on the con­sti­tu­tion but our par­ties got round a ta­ble and thrashed out a deal that was signed by all.

The ques­tion now is how do we use th­ese pow­ers? I want to see cuts to in­equal­ity, not pub­lic ser­vices. I want to use th­ese new pow­ers to pur­sue a rad­i­cal agenda which will build a fairer coun­try and grow our econ­omy.

The prom­ise of more pow­ers has been de­liv­ered. It is now time for politi­cians to roll up their sleeves and talk about what we’ll ac­tu­ally do to make this coun­try health­ier, wealth­ier and hap­pier.

The time for grudge and grievance is over. It’s now time to build a bet­ter na­tion.

Last week Gor­don Brown an­nounced he would not be seek­ing re-elec­tion next May in the 2015 Gen­eral Elec­tion. The for­mer Prime Min­is­ter’s in­ter­ven­tions in the ref­er­en­dum were key mo­ments in both the cam­paign and the de­vel­op­ment of the Smith Com­mis­sion.

He leaves be­hind a legacy of pur­su­ing so­cial jus­tice across the UK, act­ing swiftly to pre­vent a de­pres­sion dur­ing the bank­ing cri­sis and pas­sion­ately be­liev­ing that we achieve so much more by the strength of our common en­deav­our than we ever could alone.

Light fan­tas­tic James Kelly MSP, with Cam­bus­lang West coun­cil­lor Richard Tul­lett, at the Cam­bus­lang Christ­mas lights switch-on

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