“Ending Austerity” debate at Holyrood a missed opportunity

Today’s “Ending Austerity” debate at Holyrood is a missed opportunity, according to Scottish Greens Social Security spokesperson Alison Johnstone MSP.

Labour’s motion offers no solutions to austerity, while the SNP and Tory amendments attempt to delete the responsibilities of the Scottish and UK Governments.

The Scottish Greens’ amendment, which was not selected for debate by the Presiding Officer, highlighted anti-austerity actions Greens have led such as banning unnecessary benefits assessments and sanctions, and creating a more progressive system of income tax. It also offered ideas to further tackle inequality using devolved powers, such as protecting local government budgets, further changes to the tax system, lifting the benefit cap and introducing a £5 a week child benefit top-up that would lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

Alison Johnstone, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said:

“Tackling inequality in our society is essential, so this opposition debate in Parliament is a missed opportunity as Labour have offered no constructive suggestions. It’s equally disappointing that the SNP want to create the impression they have already done enough when there is clearly plenty more to do. And it’s no surprise that the Tories want to airbrush austerity from the record, so embarrassed are they by the UK Government’s inhumane actions.

“There is a bitter irony that Labour are today posturing about ending austerity whilst they do nothing to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU in March next year. A hard Brexit will hit those already suffering the impacts of austerity the hardest.

“Scottish Greens have been leading the change by using devolved powers over social security and income tax to make Scotland fairer. In a parliament of minorities all parties have a responsibility and an opportunity to make a difference for Scotland’s communities, and Scottish Greens will continue to put forward the bold ideas we need for a better and fairer Scotland.”