As part of its alternative programme for government, Scottish Labour proposes Bill to tackle embedded poverty in Scotland
KEZIA DUGDALE today announced that an Anti-Poverty Bill would be a top priority for Scottish Labour in order to deal with the inequalities witnessed in Scotland's economy and society.
Her proposal was part of the party's alternative programme for government which outlines what Scottish Labour thinks should be focused on when the parliament returns from recess next week.
Coming a day after the Scottish Government released of its Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) data – which shows which areas of Scotland are most deprived – Dugdale focused on education, poverty, budgetary accountability and union and business relations as priorities for Scotland.
The Scottish Labour leader also called for the building of 60,000 affordable houses of which 45,000 would be for social renting alone.
The Scottish labour leader, said: "One hundred and nineteen days ago, the SNP was elected again as Scotland’s Government for a third term and Nicola Sturgeon was given a personal mandate by the Scottish people to serve as Scotland’s first minister.
"We were promised a bold and radical programme for government, but 119 days on we are still waiting to see the government’s plans.
"When people ask me what difference a Labour government would make here in Scotland, I ask them to look just look at what Sadiq Khan has already delivered in London."
The idea and main points of the Anti-Poverty Bill are rooted in the Eisenstadt proposals, of which Dugdale said all 15 points should be implemented.
This would include abolishing the Council Tax and replacing it with what she called a "fairer system”. However, when pressed the Scottish Labour leader said that specifics for the proposals would be "worked on in due course".
Dugdale also called for the building of 60,000 affordable houses, of which 45,000 would be for social renting alone.
Also among the recommendations was a call for all firms awarded public procurement contracts to pay the living wage to their employees.
The Fair Start Fund would be paid for by reintroducing the 50p top rate of tax for those earning more than £150,000 a year.
The Eisenstadt report, was a paper prepared for the Scottish Government by Naomi Eisenstadt, an independent advisor on poverty and inequality and was put together using researched evidence and views from government, third sector and other 'social stakeholders' across Scotland.
It also included large amounts of first hand evidence from people with experience of living on low incomes and outlined the actions the Scottish Government could take to significantly reduce the numbers of people living in poverty in Scotland.
Scottish Labour maintains that not enough heed has been given to the recommendations in the report made in January of this year, which also focuses on occupational segregation for gender and ethnicity, flexibility for childcare in the work place and a bolder local tax system.
Other measures included in the party’s alternative programme for government included a budgetary responsibility bill which would ensure that the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) would have greater power to independently scrutinise the government’s accounts.
"When people ask me what difference a Labour government would make here in Scotland, I ask them to look just look at what Sadiq Khan has already delivered in London." Kezia Dugdale
Educational reforms would include a 'Fair Start Fund' which Scottish Labour says would narrow the attainment gap, by giving money direct to headteachers in all primary schools and nurseries to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The fund would be paid for by reintroducing the 50p top rate of tax for those earning more than £150,000 a year.
With regards to the Trade Union Bill introduced by the UK Government, Dugdale said a new body should be formed joining Skills Scotland in partnership with trade unions and employers, co-chaired by a STUC nominee, which could deal with disputes, training and skills in work.
Dugdale aslo said a Labour government would ban fracking in Scotland outright, saying: "No ifs, no buts, no fracking."
However, she did not make a comment about wether Labour would welcome or ban imports of US shale in to the country.
Finally a new Refugee Integration Bill was suggested to make explicit what refugees’ rights are in terms of access to services, and to create national standards for language training and interpretation for refugees.
Picture courtesy of Scottish Labour
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