Labour will implement the Eisenstadt report in full

Labour will implement in full the recommendations of the report by the SNP Government’s anti-poverty advisor.

In a letter to Naomi Eisenstadt, Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale said a Labour Scottish Government will implement all 15 recommendations for tackling poverty.

The report was first issued in January. Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP Government would formally respond before the end of March but failed to do so.

The recommendations include a call to “be bold on local tax reform”. Scottish Labour will scrap the unfair council tax and replace it with a fairer system. Under the new system 80% of households will pay less than they are paying today.

This week SNP Social Justice spokesperson Alex Neil confirmed that the SNP will not respond to the report until after the election.

Kezia Dugdale challenged all the parties to pledge to implement the recommendations in full, and pledged an Anti-Poverty Bill in the first Scottish Labour programme for government.

Kezia Dugdale said:

“The central debate in this election is about tax and what we do with the money raised. The leaked papers from Panama have tapped into that sense of anger there is right across the world about the richest not paying their fair share.

At a time when cuts are being imposed on schools and other vital public services, people are understandably furious that the rules for those at the very top appear to be different to the rules the rest of us must live by.

The SNP seem to misunderstand and misjudge the public mood on this.

It’s about how we use the powers to stop the cuts. Cuts that will damage the very fabric of our society. Cuts that will have an impact on all of us. But those who will suffer most because of the cuts will be the poorest.

We are going to relentlessly pursue the central contradiction at the heart of the SNP’s election campaign: to tell people, rich and poor, they won’t pay a penny more in income tax than they do today…while claiming you will raise an extra billion pounds more in income tax.

Their tax plan is conservative, it is contradictory, it is a con. You can’t claim to want to change Scotland if you aren’t willing to do things differently.

Now the SNP Government ordered a review into what can be done to tackle poverty in Scotland. It was a very good report, carried out by the very respected Naomi Eisenstadt. That’s the report that Nicola Sturgeon ordered and then hoped everybody would forget about. The report that told the First Minister we need bold reform of local taxation, a recommendation she completely ignored.

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would publish its formal response to the report by the end of March, but she didn’t bother to do so.

Well, Labour will.

So I can confirm today that I have written to Naomi Eisenstadt to confirm that a Scottish Labour Government will implement all 15 of the recommendations in her report.

An Anti-Poverty Bill will be included in the first Labour Programme for Government to deliver on these recommendations.

We will be bold on local taxation by scrapping the unfair council tax and asking the wealthiest to pay a bit more. The average household will save £111 because of our plans.

Our manifesto will detail more of our proposals on childcare. But we will stop the cuts to nurseries and schools that have been imposed by the SNP. Cuts that mean children are on waiting lists to get nursery places that are told they are entitled to. Cuts that mean the after-school clubs and the summer courses parents rely on are being cut.

We will build an additional 45,000 social houses. We will introduce a Warm Homes Act to tackle fuel poverty.

A Scottish Labour Government will implement all 15 recommendations from the SNP’s own anti-poverty tsar. Something even the SNP Government has so far refused to do.

So my challenge to Nicola Sturgeon is this. Don’t just talk about how anti-poverty you are. Actually do something about it and match Labour’s plan.

Risk upsetting the millionaires. Risk asking the wealthiest few to pay just a little bit more.

Because the price of not doing it – more cuts to schools, thousands out of work and more children living in poverty – is just too great.”

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