Well, the Smith Commission has reported back. I suppose this is the White Paper or equivalent promised by Gordon Brown in his timetable. If Westminster agrees to this we’ll get to set Income Tax bands and levels, but not the personal allowance, and have control of the Disability Living Allowance but not the Universal Credit (which was supposed to replace all other allowances). They’ll give us back half of the VAT raised in Scotland but we won’t be able to decide who pays this (bad news for Police Scotland there). We’ll get oil and gas revenues but only if we frack – no North Sea oil money for the Scottish Government. At least we can give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in all Scottish elections.
“Fact is decisions about 70 per cent of Scottish taxes and 85 per cent of current UK welfare spending in Scotland will stay at Westminster. That’s not Home Rule – it’s Westminster rule!” – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
I’m sure John Swinney will come up with some creative ways to make use of these powers but it will be difficult to really make a difference for the working poor. Westminster seem determined that the poor will be always with us.
Let’s see what actually gets delivered now. There are more stages for watering down ‘the vow’ before this is over. Here’s where to get your copy of the report.