McLeod highlights “six gains of independence” for women

Following a keynote address at the Scottish Women’s Convention in Glasgow on Saturday, by the Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod highlighted “six gains of independence” for women – in childcare, the minimum wage, equalities issues, pensions, benefits, and economic opportunities.

Dr McLeod commented:

“Independence means that decisions about Scotland will be taken here in Scotland. It means that our Parliament will have responsibility for all aspects of our national life, and not just those matters devolved to it by Westminster. On Saturday Nicola Sturgeon set out just six of the benefits – for everyone, but particularly for women – that we could secure by voting Yes this September.

“Firstly, a transformation in childcare. If we can raise female participation in the labour market to levels achieved in, for example, Sweden, then as well as a boost to general economic performance, we will raise an extra £700 million per year in tax revenue.

 

“Secondly, we can act to ensure that the lowest paid are treated fairly, and that work is a route out of poverty. There are many women today who work in low paid jobs. What we do with the minimum wage, therefore, really matters to the standard of living of women and their children. With independence, we can guarantee that the minimum wage will rise at least in line with inflation every year.

“Thirdly, with independence, responsibility for equalities legislation will pass to the Scottish Parliament. That will let us tackle more effectively the deep seated gender inequalities that still hold women back.

“Fourthly, we could make sure the retirement age reflects Scottish circumstances. As things stand, young women entering the workforce today will likely have to work until they are 70 while life expectancy in Scotland is still lower than it is elsewhere. So surely it is far better for decisions about the retirement age to be taken here, in Scotland, where our distinctive circumstances can be properly taken into account.

“Fifthly, independence for Scotland will allow us to protect the independence of women in the benefits system. Universal Credit will replace payments like working tax credit and child tax credit. Under Westminster’s plans it will be paid in a single household payment. That will mean, in many cases, it will go to the man of the house. It’s like going back in time to the ‘male breadwinner’ notion of society and, in some households, could lead to real hardship for women and children. Women – if they are the second earner in a house – will also lose their ‘earnings disregard’, the amount they are allowed to earn before losing benefit.

“We would reverse those changes, protect the right of individuals to receive payments in their own right, and make sure women have the same incentives to work as men – all moves that will benefit women in particular.

“Lastly, independence will enable us to create more opportunities here in Scotland. Our economic policy is about making Scotland an attractive place to do business, so that we can create more jobs and opportunities and enable our young people to stay here. Giving ourselves control of the economic levers that other countries take for granted will help us level the playing field with places like London, and create more opportunities here.

 

“These are just some of the tangible benefits that can flow from independence, particularly for women, but we will only be able to realise them by voting Yes on the 18th of September.”

 

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