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Wealth figures proof Scottish independence is radical change needed to help poor

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THE latest wealth statistics are a damning indictment of a society dictated by Westminster Tory policy – and proof the only way to make lasting, radical change is through Scottish independence

Food banks have become part of the backbone of our society due to the relentless austerity and cuts imposed by the UK Government across the country.

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Those on Universal Credit have been left £20 a week worse off because of the UK Government, the National Insurance contribution hike is set to cost the average worker an extra £255 a year in taxes and inflation is expected to rise over 7% this year – we are heading for a cost of living crisis that will hit millions of people on lower incomes hard.

And yet, the wealthiest Scots have seen their riches rise while the poorest are yet again left to struggle. We need fundamental change, and the Westminster system isn’t willing or able to do it.

During the run up to the Holyrood 2021 election, the Greens proposed a millionaire wealth tax on the richest earners – and it was ridiculed by the Unionist press.

It proposed a 1% annual levy on all wealth and assets above a £1 million threshold – and the latest figures show the median wealth of the top 10% sits at just over £1.6m. For the poorest this is just over £7500 a year. 

The National:

The UK is facing a cost of living crisis that will impact millions on low incomes

And, between 2016-18 and 2018-20, the highest 10% and highest 1% of earners both saw their share of total wealth grow. For the top 10%, they held 42% of the country’s wealth in 2016-18, which has grown to 45% in 2018-20. For the top 1% over the same period, the rise was from 10% to 13%.

For those in the bottom 40%, their share of wealth fell from 5% to 4% – for the first time since 2006-08.

There are numerous ways to make the same point – the rich need to pay up, and the burden must be taken off of lower earners.

And yet there is a vivid disconnect amongst the Tories – just take Douglas Ross defending benefit cuts during a photo-opportunity at a soup kitchen.

They come from privilege, they have never had to skip meals because they couldn’t afford it or found themselves out on the street with noone to turn to – they don’t get it and they never will. 

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There is an opportunity in Scotland to open a discussion about how to change this in an independent nation – we could introduce a basic income, which would give everyone an equal place to start from, and take away the fear of being left destitute and unemployed.

We need to talk about housing, the steep prices of the rental private market, the homeless people left behind, the properties lying empty that are ripe for being turned into social rented homes, the short term lets and second homes that are pricing people out of their local areas – and that’s just one area of policy.

The figures don’t even broach the topic of the gender pay gap and the huge amount of unpaid work that women do in the home caring for children or other family members.

The National:

The poorest in society are being left behind while the rich get richer

Not to mention greater employment rights for workers, a real living wage that keeps up with inflation and a benefits system that is fit for purpose – and doesn’t stigmatise those who need help.

It’s of no doubt that the Scottish Government and SNP can make changes and they are trying – doubling the Scottish Child Payment is one example – but without full powers such as borrowing and everything else a nation needs, we will be stuck in a catch-22 trying to mitigate damaging Tory policy and economic modelling.

A Scotland that is fair and equal is possible, but only with independence.



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