How can we share the prosperity of Scotland?

Fighting poverty
One in three of our children and one in four of our pensioners live in poverty, and as a Government we are determined that all will share in the benefits that a strong, vibrant economy can bring.

That is why the SNP will ensure that government works strategically across departments to implement anti-poverty measures through a Scottish National Anti-Poverty Strategy.

We will help people on lower incomes keep more of what they earn rather than return it to the state, whether their income is a pension or a wage. Those who cannot work will be properly supported by a straightforward benefits system.

We will restore local government to the lead role in implementing measures to tackle poverty and regeneration.

We will devolve budgets and decision making to create a participative democracy and, with support for community empowerment and partnership working, make sure local communities is key to regeneration.

We will pilot childcare initiatives and smaller class sizes initially in areas where there are high levels of poverty.

The SNP will ensure that people who can work, can access high-wage, high-skilled employment wherever possible and that those on lower incomes are not penalised by the benefits systems.

We will work to make sure that people who have in the past been unable to access employment can join the workforce and play their part in increasing the prosperity of Scotland. This means ensuring a fairer approach for those who earn modest incomes but are currently penalised for doing so.

It means providing affordable quality child care to ensure working mothers have more employment choices and the introduction of measures encouraging women who choose to have children to be able to return to work and secure better paid employment.

The SNP believe that to fundamentally tackle the root cause of poverty in Scotland, we must tackle the under performance of the Scottish economy and address the low-income levels and lack of opportunity which affect too many people living in Scotland.

Building our prosperity
Scotland has all the attributes for economic success — a top international brand and reputation, a superb environment, rich natural resources, a good location, and an educated and skilled population. But we need to bridge the gap between our mediocre economic performance and our outstanding potential. That means taking action to tackle the causes of low economic growth.

The Scottish economy has recorded thirty years of low growth, well below the UK and European Union average. Since Labour came to power in 1997, the Scottish economy has grown on average by just 1.4 per cent a year, compared to the UK’s rate of growth of 2.6 per cent, Finland’s of 4 per cent, or Ireland’s of 8.6 per cent.

If Scotland had kept pace with these countries there would be billions of pounds more in the Scottish economy, making more resources available for investing in our public services without raising tax.

Higher growth means more jobs. More jobs mean more competition for staff. And that means higher wages and more spending power for individuals. It also means that the government collects more in tax and so has more to spend on public services.

It’s not rocket science. It’s what every other nation in Europe does.

The key to success
Unless Scotland can start taking key decisions in Scotland, our economic decline will continue. To reverse that decline the SNP believes we must address the single core problem facing the Scottish economy — the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Governments can’t create wealth, but they can and do create the conditions, which either help or hinder wealth creation. And successive UK governments have been more of a hindrance than a help to Scotland.

As long as we remain part of the centralised UK, we will continue to see low growth, loss of head offices, low business birth rates, early takeovers of promising Scottish companies, low spending on research and development and a ‘brain drain’ that sees us lose people and ideas to the south east of England.

This all has a disastrous effect on Scotland’s economic performance and on the life chances of Scottish people. It means higher unemployment and more people on benefits, more part-time work and short contracts, low incomes, low birth rates, child poverty, poor diet, poor health, and lower life expectancy.

To turn this around the Scottish government must be able to use the normal economic powers our competitors take for granted. And crucially we must focus them on creating the competitive conditions for an enterprise economy that puts Scotland first and creates and retains more jobs and prosperity in Scotland.

With the full powers of Independence we can work to deliver a high-wage, high-skill economy with greater prosperity, better job opportunities and more self-reliance.

This will lead to more taxpayers with higher incomes and reduced spending on unemployment, enabling government to focus on improving public services and delivering social justice.

The SNP want to work for economic success so that economic success works to create social justice in Scotland.

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