Willie Rennie talks about solutions to poverty, poor housing and low wages

Holyrood Magazine has been asking Scottish political leaders what they would do to tackle poverty. Here’s his ambitious answer to a question about whether the Scottish Government’s child poverty targets (less than 10% in relative poverty and 5% in absolute poverty by 2030) were acceptable:

Any child in poverty is unacceptable and any government should be working towards eradicating poverty altogether. Obviously, that is quite a challenge but we should set ourselves to be that ambitious. ​

And if we had to pay more taxes to ensure that? His answer isn’t surprising given that he’s the only Scottish leader to propose a rise in income tax for a “transformational” investment in education.

If we are going to be serious about tackling inequality and poverty then we have to be honest with ourselves that taxation is going to be required. However, any taxation must be done progressively so that everyone pays their fair share and that every penny raised is used as effectively as possible.

And talking of transformations, he was clear that the SNP mustn’t flunk the chance to do something different on social security:

New social security powers should be used so that the people of Scotland benefit from them. The SNP now have the chance to create a bespoke welfare system and they should grab the opportunity and not let it sail away.

He also commented on low wages and housing and, bizarrely, he was asked about his favourite Christmas movie.

You can read the whole thing here.

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  • I like Willie Rennie, but perhaps the headline should read “Willie Rennie offers no solutions to poverty, poor housing and low wages”.

  • Peter Martin 28th Dec '16 - 11:29am

    “we have to be honest with ourselves that {extra} taxation is going to be required.”

    Willie Rennie is quite right to answer the question in these terms. The Holyrood government is a user of the British pound, just like you and I are users. So to get the money to spend it either has to borrow that money, just like you and I have to borrow it, or it has to raise it by imposing higher taxes.

    However, if Mr Rennie was talking about the Westminster government it may not be correct at all. The pound is an IOU of the government and it can create as many pounds as it likes. That’s where money comes from. It can’t borrow it’s own IOUs -that makes no sense at all. All it can do is swap one type of IOU for another in the money markets. So the question then should be whether that extra spending is likely to create a higher level of inflation than is desirable. If that’s the case government should cool the economy by taxing more and possibly spending less.

    If it can spend without creating that inflation, then it should do so without the need to raise taxes. That spending is necessary to keep the economy functioning as well as tackling child poverty. Or, whatever else the government wants to spend it on.

    All this is just pointing out that the economics of the Holyrood govt are exactly like a household. The economics of the Westminster govt are not.

  • I believe that the Scottish government has had the freedom to levy more tax ever since it was launched, but has chosen not to do so. Why?

    This is perhaps the time to enquire how it is possible for Scotland to look after older people better than in England and not to charge for university tuition. How is it done? Is the Barnett formula too generous?

  • Richard Underhillmme 10th Feb '17 - 12:27pm

    Grand Designs Revisited (More4 9/2/2017) has experience of the creation of a community by people from the housing waiting list self-building for a rent at about one third lower than normal. This is not just about providing housing, central as that is, but about personal development and putting something back. How many people dropped out? none of them. How many people have since moved? None of them.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Feb '17 - 1:31pm

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