#stuc19 The Scottish Government must live up to its responsibilities to protect public services and mitigate the impact of welfare cuts on the poorest by fully utilising its existing tax raising powers.
This was the rousing message from UNISON President Gordon McKay as he moved a composite motion from UNISON and PCS on Scottish Income Tax and Social Security.
Congress agreed and the STUC will now launch a high profile campaign to call for welfare reform including the scrapping of Universal Credit and for the Scottish Government to develop a scheme to use its tax raising powers exclusively for local government.
Gordon slammed the Tory government for its record of putting four million children into poverty, for forcing 350,000 people into homelessness, “and, for the first time in 35 years, since the dark shadow of Thatcher hung over our country, has seen life expectancy in Scotland for both men and women falling.”
Gordon told Congress that he could forgive them if they were just stupid. “But they aren’t. These outcomes are the result of deliberate, conscious, pre-meditated planning!”
“Half a million people don’t rely on foodbanks to eat by accident. Child benefit hasn’t lost over 20% of its value by mistake. And 130,000 children didn’t spend Christmas Day in temporary accommodation because of an oversight.
“They happened because of a cruel, vindictive targeting of the vulnerable and a policy of making the poor poorer.”
Not only that, added Gordon, the Tories have also targeted the very services that people rely on, that make us a decent, civilised society. “One million jobs axed and for every £1 that was spent on Local Authority funding under Labour, we see that reduced to 40p.”
All this is exacerbated by moving tax credits to Universal Credit with 2.8 million households seeing cuts to their income.
Gordon suggested that perhaps we can expect nothing better from the Tories.
“But we do from those with the power to make decisions in Scotland.”
He pointed out that UNISON campaigned for an extension of tax powers in Scotland, but “for a purpose. To be used to create a fairer and more decent society, not as weapons in a constitutional battle.”
He called on the union movement to put pressure on the Scottish Government to face up to its responsibilities to mitigate Tory welfare and economic policies and to increase spending on social security and public services to protect our people.
“The trade unions in this hall campaigned for the Scottish Government to have the powers to increase the top rate of tax, to introduce a wealth tax, a social responsibility tax, and we won.
“The Scottish Government now has the tax raising powers that can make people’s lives better. It’s time that it used them,” urged Gordon.