Reform Scotland

Think tank calls on Labour to “join the party” on income tax devolution

Ahead of Ed Miliband’s visit to Scotland, Reform Scotland says Labour is well behind its peers

The independent, non-party think tank Reform Scotland, which formed the cross-party Devo Plus campaign for the Scottish Parliament to raise the bulk of what it spends, has called on Labour to be more radical in its plans for further devolution in the event of a ‘No’ vote in the referendum.

The devolution commissions of the three Unionist parties reported earlier this year. Both the Liberal Democrat and Conservative commissions recommended the devolution of the entirety of income tax, which would lead to the Scottish Parliament raising around 40% of what it spends.

The Labour report, in contrast, proposed only a tinkering with the Scotland Act 2012 proposals, increasing the amount of income tax raised in Scotland from 10p to 15p (see notes to editors for party comparison).

Commenting ahead of Ed Miliband’s visit to Scotland, Reform Scotland Chairman Ben Thomson said:

“The Labour devolution commission’s interim report was genuinely radical, but its final report was a damp squib.

“Whilst aspects of the report could be welcomed, such as the devolution of Housing Benefit and the enshrining of the permanence of the Scottish Parliament, it was a generally timid report which showed no real ambition for the future of devolution.

“Labour has been outflanked by both the Lib Dems and the Tories, who currently look like the parties of progress when it comes to devolution. However, it is not too late for Labour to join the party.

“Ed Miliband can help Labour reclaim its lost tag of the ‘party of devolution’ by agreeing to a more radical transfer of power. He could start by committing to match the Lib Dem and Conservative proposals on income tax.”