Following a new report, the SNP has criticised the Tories for callously ruling out options to create a fairer, more equal society – based on ideology.
The Work and Pensions Committee today (Tuesday) published a new report that blasts the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for failing to set out a long-term plan to support people to adapt to changes in the labour market and finds that this failure risks exacerbating existing inequalities.
Despite this finding, the Tories on the Committee voted down an amendment by SNP MP Chris Stephens, which would have seen the report recommend that the “DWP should engage with local authorities or devolved governments who wish to conduct pilots or feasibility studies of a Universal Basic Income.”
A Universal Basic Income policy has widely been suggested by experts and organisations to tackle the deep-rooted inequality in the UK, which has been made worse by a decade of Tory austerity, a hard Tory Brexit, and the global health pandemic.
The SNP Scottish Government has committed to piloting a Universal Basic Income (UBI) but it can only be done with the full co-operation of the UK government. The SNP Scottish Government also made a manifesto commitment to bring in a minimum income guarantee to ensure everyone in Scotland can have enough money to live a dignified life by ensuring a minimum standard of living.
Commenting, Chris Stephens MP said;
“The refusal to look seriously at options that could lift people out of poverty and eradicate inequalities is sheer arrogance from the Tories. They themselves have agreed that it is vital for people who find themselves out of work to have access to a robust safety net, and have acknowledged that the UK does not have that right now – yet they will readily shut down options that could rectify this or allow devolved nations to rectify this.
“The Committee has heard story after story of how people across the UK are suffering from poverty, debt and financial hardship as a result of a decade of Tory austerity, a hard Tory Brexit and coronavirus, and we have heard – as the Scottish Government has heard – that a solution to this could be a Universal Basic Income. Yet, the Tories on this Committee are actively working against helping Scotland bring in a pilot on it.
“Scotland will never be a priority for the Tories at Westminster, and our needs and best interests will forever be sidelined in favour of ideology. We saw this when they dragged us out of the EU against our will.
“Whilst the Tories look to revert to type and impose more austerity on thousands of families, Scotland is widening the safety net to create a fairer and more equal society.
“But whilst the majority of welfare powers and employment powers remain reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government will always be tackling poverty and inequality with one hand tied behind its back, and a truly equal society will be a pipe dream. The full powers of independence are vital to ensuring a strong and equal recovery for Scotland.”
Work and Pensions Committee Report – ‘DWP preparations for changes in the world of work’
Mr Stephens’ amendment can be found on page 52