This article by Ben Thomson appeared in Holyrood.
The Scottish Government has indicated that the referendum on independence is likely to offer three choices to the Scottish electorate; independence, the status quo and some middle option. We believe ‘Devolution Plus’, which Reform Scotland published on Tuesday, is the first major attempt since the election to set out exactly what this third option could look like.
At present Holyrood is responsible for almost 60% of all public expenditure in Scotland, yet it is responsible for raising only 6.4% of funding. Reform Scotland’s proposals recommend a structure that will shift the responsibility for raising revenue to create a much more even balance between Holyrood and Westminster which gives both governments an incentive to act more responsibly within their respective areas of power. The result is that this proposal completely removes the need for the block grant as each level of government has their own powers to fund their respective Scottish expenditure.
In addition, we have recommended a significant shift in responsibility for elements of welfare from Westminster to Holyrood. Many policy areas associated with alleviating poverty, such as social inclusion and housing, are already devolved. Therefore, we believe that by giving the Scottish Parliament responsibility for a number of major welfare benefits a more coherent and effective approach can be adopted.
We believe that Devolution Plus provides a solution within the current constitutional framework creating real incentives for both politicians at Holyrood and Westminster to focus on economic growth and improved public services