SNP independence commission calls for windfall tax to fund Covid-19 recovery

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The SNP has called for the UK Government to levy a windfall tax against companies profiting from the pandemic to fund economic recovery.

The Social Justice and Fairness Commission (SJFC) was set up by the party last year to map out how an independent Scotland would tackle inequality.

Addressing the SNP conference on Sunday, SJFC convener Shona Robison pushed for corporations who profited from the pandemic to aid the country’s recovery.

Shona Robison
Shona Robison

She said: “I believe it is essential that those businesses which have benefited the most through the pandemic also contribute to recovery, with the focus of that recovery on supporting those individuals and families who have been impacted most.

“Instead of freezing public-sector pay, scrapping the proposed increase to the national minimum wage and failing to extend the £20 uplift to universal credit, the UK Government must instead look to those with the broadest shoulders and consider a windfall tax on those businesses which have seen excess profits during the pandemic, raising much-needed revenues to help ensure a fairer and more socially just recovery from this pandemic.”

The commission’s conclusion mirrors that of the Resolution Foundation, which said earlier this month that a 10% tax on above normal profits would raise £130 million.

Speaking after this week’s spending review, Chancellor Rishi Sunak would not be drawn on a windfall tax when asked if he had considered it by Labour MP Richard Burgon.

MP Neil Gray, deputy convener of the commission, said that universal basic income (UBI) would be “possible” in an independent Scotland.

The proposal, which would scrap all forms of social security and replace it with a universal payment of a set amount to every person in the country, is one that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed an interest in this year.

In May, Ms Sturgeon said “the time has come” for an initiative such as UBI while the Scottish Government has hosted localised pilots of a similar scheme.

Mr Gray also said that a minimum income guarantee – which would see a top-up of income from the government to those below a certain threshold – was being investigated by the group.

Addressing the conference, Mr Gray said: “As a commission we want to see independence deliver a secure income guarantee and we’ve looked at UBI or a minimum income guarantee as possible ways of delivering that.”

The MP said it was up to Scots to decided if they wanted the “austerity on stilts” he predicted after Brexit, or “building a good, safer, wellbeing society with independence”.

Mr Gray added: “Our children can’t afford to take the chance any longer – they need independence.”

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