Thursday, 8 August 2013

Dundee takes part in national Better Together campaign weekend

Better Together News Release:

The campaign for Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom will take its positive message on the benefits of the UK to the doorsteps this week.

This week, 9th to 11th August,  Better Together will hold its sixth National Campaign Weekend as thousands of supporters across Scotland knock on doors, deliver leaflets and speak to voters by phone.

The theme of the campaigning will be the benefits to Scotland’s pensioners of remaining in the United Kingdom.

The campaign comes days after it was revealed:

-           A report by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that an independent Scotland would have to cut benefits, increase taxes or reduce spending on public services to look after our population which is ageing faster than the rest of the UK
-          A £700m annual black hole at the heart of the SNP’s plan for the state pension
-          The private workplace pensions of up to 36,000 university staff in Scotland are at risk because of the implications of separation on cross-border pension schemes
-          Money for good causes would have to be diverted from charities into funding their pension schemes because of EU laws on cross-border pensions if we go it alone

West End City Councillor Fraser Macpherson will join campaigners in Dundee to make the positive case for Scotland staying in the United Kingdom. 

Cllr Macpherson said, “There is a clear majority in favour of Scotland staying in the UK, but there is no complacency.   That is why we will be out in the local area knocking on doors and delivering leaflets to make the case for the UK.

"Being part of the UK means the payment of pensions and welfare in Scotland is more secure.    Most people in Dundee know that by pooling our resources throughout the whole of United Kingdom, Scotland is better prepared to meet the challenges of a population that is ageing faster than the rest of the UK and the higher pensions and welfare spending we will need in the future.

“The SNP has no plan on pensions and no plan on welfare. They ignore the big problems while promising the world. They can’t tell us how pensions would be paid, how benefits would be delivered or how much their plans would cost.   People in Dundee deserve honest answers about the very difficult decisions an independent Scotland would have to take on pensions and welfare.

“The IFS have spelled these out for the SNP – it would mean benefit cuts, higher taxes or cuts in public spending. The question for Alex Salmond is this: which is it to be?

“Scotland as part of the UK is better placed to look after our old people and help those in need. Alex Salmond’s independence campaign is putting this at risk. That is the message I will be taking out to people across Dundee this weekend.”

Rob Murray, Grassroots Co-ordinator at Better Together, added,   “We will be taking our strong, positive message to the door steps and town centres of Scotland.

“As well as using these traditional campaign methods, Better Together is also at the cutting edge of campaigning. That is why we will be using our new Blether Together tool, which allows supporters to be put in touch with people from a similar background to make the case for Scotland remaining in the UK. Activists can help in this way from the comfort of their own living room. 

“We are running a strong, positive campaign but we can’t do it alone. People who share our support for Scotland staying in the UK need to join us in spreading our message. Please get in touch if you have a contribution to make.”

Background information

John Swinney leaked paper:

‘I expect that the working group will consider the affordability of state pensions.’ 

“Demographics is an important factor within this for Scotland given the ageing profile of our population. At present HMT and DWP absorb the risk in the growth in demand in the widest sense and therefore all associated costs.’ 

Key quotes from IFS report  

“Funding the benefits system in the decades ahead may prove somewhat more burdensome for an independent Scotland. It will also make undertaking major reforms of the benefits system perhaps even more difficult for Scotland than for the UK as a whole, as such reforms are either costly or create many losers. 

“Whilst the government of an independent Scotland might undo some of the benefits cuts implemented by the current UK government (as Scottish government ministers have said they would do), it seems likely that this slightly more generous system could not be sustained in the long term without discretionary tax rises or further cuts to spending on public services.” 

“Independence in 2016 would take place in the context of a Scottish population that is projected to age more rapidly than that of Great Britain as a whole. All else equal, this will increase benefit spending in Scotland relative to Great Britain. Together with higher spending on health and social care, this suggests demographic change will place a greater burden on Scotland’s public finances than it will on Great Britain as a whole.”