24/01/2013 Newsnight Scotland


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living. Is that a good enough new normal?


Tonight on Newsnight Scotland, by 2014 families will be feeling the


impact of the coalition government's welfare reforms. How


much will it influence the way they vote in the independence


referendum? Whatever happens, should welfare be devolved. From


April the UK Government will begin the main elements of their welfare


reforms. All of the changes are expected to take four years to


complete but halfway to the process is the Scottish independence


referendum and by that time it is expected that the bulk of changes


will be well under way. Could the welfare reforms have a significant


influence on how people will vote in 2014?


We would just get your pump now, give you your milk. 18 months ago I


interviewed Claire for this programme. She and her partner


Derek have twin girls, now aged six. One of them, Katie, has complex


disabilities and requires 24 hour care. Derek works and Clare is a --


a home carer. They describe themselves as the working poor and


they say the changes will hit them hard. The benefits cap introduced


last week will have an impact on us for the next three years. With tax


credits etc, with inflation and the cost of living, they will be rising.


With regard to our source of income, that will not obviously be


increasing with the cost of living over the next three years. Claire


helps to campaign for the carers in Scotland. When it comes to the 2014


referendum, she says what people like her are looking for is detail.


In an independent Scotland, with regard to reform, would he U-turn


on what the Tories have brought in just now? Would he stop a bedroom


tax, which will be coming into place in April? There are a lot of


carers who are dependent on housing benefit who are going to be


suffering with this tax. The entire UK well-cut -- welfare system is in


a spin and it is unclear how many people will be affected north of


the border but critics say it could be as many as one in three


households, taking �2.5 billion out of the Scottish economy. All across


Scotland it is not just people who are on health and unemployment


related benefits, it will affect the working poor. People on low


wages to store get help with the Brent. One parent earning more than


�50,000 a year could lose all or part of their child benefit. To


what extent should either part of the Independent's campaign target


disaffected voters on welfare? income communities and households


tend to vote less, even though they may have more of a stake in the


outcome of an election. One exception is pensioners. Older


people tend to have higher turnouts and vote on issues of pensions and


benefits much more directly. It may be true that the poorer you are the


less likely you are to vote, but this could -- could this be a


motivating factor to drive people to vote? It will partly depend on


people's evaluation of what the long-term consequences will be in


terms of their position. Undoubtedly one aspect of that, for


those people primarily on benefits, will be a judgment about whether or


not in the long run they are likely to be better off under the policies


of the UK Government or better off on the policies pursued by the


Scottish government. I suspect at the moment most people will say, in


truth I am not sure. Setting out a clear case would help. The SNP says


that an independent Scotland would have a fairer welfare system. But


how would they pay for it? In Europe governments are cutting


their welfare bills. And that was before the euro crisis. Scotland is


one of the richer countries in Europe and we would do well to do a


system based on universality and equity, and we are not seen that


with the cuts come from Westminster and those threatened by other


parties here in Scotland, like the Labour Party. Four those who can


should, those who can't we will always help. Four -- of those who


can. People Macey independence as a chance to punish a perceived


unsympathetic Welt -- Westminster government. -- people may see.


think it would be a mistake to make these simplistic arguments a


central part of the Independent's campaign because I think be better


to go the campaign will benefit from it in the long term. The full


impact of the cumulative cuts introduced since 2010 have not been


experienced yet. When that does it will be an issue that comes more to


the fore of political debate in the UK and in the referendum campaign.


The yes/no campaign will need to take that into account, but at that


I made it is an incomplete picture. I am joined by the chairman of


report it -- of reform Scotland, the policy director for the centre


Rolph public policy and one of the co-founders of Women for


Independence. -- director for the Centre for Scottish Public Policy.


Leaving aside the details of the welfare reforms from Iain Duncan


Smith, do you think it is reasonable to do what he is trying


to do? I think certain aspects of it make a lot of sense. But I don't


think that was the issue that we were discussing here. The issue is


whether or not to welfare is important enough to be done at a


Scottish level and whether it will influence the vote in 2014. At


$:/STARTFEED. If it is necessary to tackle the welfare system, it


doesn't matter if you have more devolution or if you keep the same


system or whether you have an independent Scotland, the issues


Iain Duncan Smith is trying to tackle would have to be tackled.


They would and some of the universal credit proposals make a


lot of sense. I still get back to saying, the key thing and, and what


the Social Attitudes Survey shows that almost two thirds of Scots


want Holyrood to be involved in making the key decisions about


welfare created in the way that's right for Scotland. Is that


possible for that to happen? Without getting rid of the other


aspect of welfare, which is that it's, what the economists call part


of the automatic stabilisers. It just happens, if one part of the UK


is doing badly, automatically money through the welfare system goes to


that area, so we all help out. It could be Scotland, could be


Cornwall or any other area. Could you devolve benefits to Scotland or


indeed other areas of the UK and keep that? It's entirely possible


to put that mechanism in place, as in many other parts of the world. I


would go further in Scotland. We were sitting here in this city of


Glasgow and the city authorities have no say over welfare payment.


In order to tackle some of the social problems in Glasgow, surely


you have to put them together with housing, with education and with


the rest of the powers in the City Council. Right. What about, you're


pro-independence, but what's your answer to this basic point about


the automatic stabilisers, if people in Cornwall are doing badly,


then automatically, not because of any decisions, effectively wealth


is thrown from Scotland to Cornwall. If Scotland is doing badly it flows


from Cornwall to Scotland. I'd have to agree with Ross actually.


Regardless of the outcome of independence referendum, I think


that you need to be in control of the levers of economics. In terms


of welfare, in Glasgow and other areas of Scotland - I think what


Ross is trying to say is that you could keep a British welfare system


but devolve decision making, I'm trying not to get you wrong,


devolve decisions on individual benefits to tailor to local


conditions. If you have independence you wouldn't have a


British welfare system. That's my preferred option. We have to arc a


stark choice at the moment, clearly, we're going down on austerity


measures. Year seeing a divergence between the Scottish and UK


Government. In Scotland they're trying to offset some of the


effects sts austerity. There have been discusses this week to offset


them. In Glasgow you're seeing the effects of inequality already. I'm


here to talk about inequality in women. Already, we're seeing


effects of austerity bills. If you look at the Joseph Rowntree


Foundation have done a study with the fiscal, Institute of Fiscal


Studies have done studies and women are the most affected. What are we


saying here? Are we just saying there should pbtd be any cuts to


welfare at all? We're saying it's about priorities. Government have


priorities. The priorities in the UK Government are not about looking


after the poorest in society. From my perspective, the women in


society, who are the carers, as your VT showed. I'm curious,


briefly on this points, so, if someone said to you, look, it's


perfectly right and moral for us to help people in Sheffield, as


Newsnight have just been talking about, if they're doing badly


through the welfare system. Scotland should contribute to that.


You'd say what, we shouldn't care about people in Sheffield? That's


not what I'm saying. At the moment we have an imperfect system. I


don't agree with the UK welfare reform. The unfortunate part is


that other parts of the UK have got a welfare system that they didn't


vote for. I have every sympathy, I was watching in Sheffield, and I


would, you know, at the moment, the system is such that I would


advocate that the wealth, there is universality of benefits at the


moment. I'd advocate change. A gree with Ross that there -- I agree


with Ross for centralise -- because a central system doesn't work.


would you favour keeping that,if you like, British automatic system


and devolving or just getting rid of that system? At the moment


there's a complete gudd le of welfare and taxes. So the point of


welfare, local government is responsible for Housing Benefit,


but other things to do with housing, like winter fuel, winter allowance


is done at a different level. So at the moment, there are so many


inconsistencies. It would be better if you're responsible for


alleviating poverty in a certain area that all of the tools are


given to you, including those of welfare. So those should be passed


down to the right level of Government. There are certain


things that would be done best at a Westminster level and certain


things done best at a local level. The context of this, as everyone


says, these welfare reforms are terrible, it's not entirely obvious


that's what people in Scotland think. I think there's two points -


one which arises from Ben's last point. There's an interesting


constitutional conundrum that there's nothing in the Scotland Act


which would forbid the UK Government directly devolving power


for welfare straight to Glasgow and bypassing Holyrood all together.


That's an issue which I don't think any of the parties in Scotland have


yet tackled. I don't know if it came to anything. I think there


were proposals to do something like that under the Blair Government.


never came to anything at that point. There were pilot projects.


They are in England. But there could be projects in Scotland. That


would change the terms this afternoon debate. The second point


which arises is the impact on the referendum. And the reverse of that


first point. Elections are won and lost or whether people vote


aspirationally or whether they vote in a negative way. So the coalition


across the UK was effectively put together in a negative vote against


the then Labour Government. It wasn't a positive vote for the


Tories nor the Lib Dems. It was a negative vote which forced those


two parties together. The difficulty for the Unionist parties


in the better together campaign is that welfare cuts will be seen in a


really negative light in Scotland. The easy message for the 'Yes'


campaign, for Natalie and the like, will be that you can vote against


us -- those negative cuts by voting for independence. I don't think the


better together campaign have addressed that. Do you think, your


side of the argument should come up with proposals as well? After all,


if you won the referendum vote, that's amazing opportunity because


effectively you could have a new welfare system and start from


scratch. One of the things you have, is universal credit as proposed by


Iain Duncan Smith. You wouldn't want to create a system with all


the complexities that have grown up in the British system over tens and


indeed hundreds of years. You'd say right, we'll do it simply. That's


the beautiful opportunity of independence that you have a huge


array of systems across the world and the UK that you can learn from.


Independence is an opportunity to draw a welfare system which is


reflective of the values of Scottish society, which is fairer


and more inclusive. Obviously, Ben and credit to Ben, has been in


favour of deefyo plus consistently, but talking about devolving welfare,


that option is not on the table. You have a stark contrast between


whether or not to continue down the path or choose fairness and made a


model. The other side of this Ben Thomson, the Scottish Government's


analysis of research done on this shows that families in Scotland


will suffer less from Iain Duncan Smith reforms than anywhere else in


the UK. Again, I come back to the fact that some of the things that


Iain Duncan Smith has are very good. He is trying to simplify the system.


There are something like 39 classes of benefits and he's trying to lump


six of them together. He is trying to make it simple. We can learn


from that. It comes back to the central theme that... Hang on, we


need to leave that for another time. Thank you all very much indeed. And


we will be discussing the referendum again on Monday, in a


Newsnight Scotland special debate programme. An audience will be


representing Scotland's ethnic minorities communities will


question leading politicians on some of the issues raised bit


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