A Common Weal vision for a fairer Scotland

Common weal glasgow scene crop

A new economic model would give support to those who need it most, says left-wing thinktank

4th June 2014 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Scotland has an opportunity to create a fairer society post-referendum, whether the country votes for independence or not, claims a new report.

An expanded welfare state, increased autonomy for local communities, higher wages and higher taxes could create a better society, according to a 180-page booklet produced by the Common Weal project.

The Jimmy Reid Foundation-backed project commissioned academics and writers to explore policies to recommend ways to build a fairer society and economy.

The third sector would have a huge role to play in building a new economy for Scotland - Eliot Stark

The publication says people could be put back at the heart of society via an economic model which ensured those who needed support most would be prioritised through, for example, a more empathetic welfare state.

A localised taxation system would also give communities the power to spend resources on priority services, such as childcare.

Although the project is an advocate for Scottish independence, the report argues that the agenda could be delivered under devolution.

Authors say although the project is not neutral in terms of the independence debate, it presents as a "model of Scotland's future irrespective of the outcome of the referendum".

“At its heart the Common Weal is a proposal for an economic transition from a low-wage unproductive economy to a high-wage productive one,” a spokesperson for the Jimmy Reid Foundation said.

“As this is achieved, a much greater focus will be put on how to design a society which improves the lives of its people rather than maximises profit for corporations.”

Ben Thomson, chair of the policy institute Reform Scotland, believed the project’s aims were achievable.

“The views of both the Common Weal and Reform Scotland are similar in that local communities should be able to take decisions about the right level of taxation and spending for their areas since that is an essential element of local democracy,” he said.   

“Further, they should be free to decide how services are provided and whether they wish to provide them directly or use the voluntary or private sectors.”

However, Eliot Stark, spokesperson for Third Sector Yes, said civil society would be given a more important role under independence.

“The third sector would have a huge role to play in building a new economy for Scotland under independence,” he said.

“Our parliamentarians are more accessible and Holyrood is, in general, much more responsive to us than Westminster. With full powers, we believe the sector could achieve much more.

“Many of our members see the route down which Westminster politics appears to be going as fundamentally at odds with where we want to go. We therefore suspect that many members will find a lot to agree with in the Common Weal's blueprint for an economy that serves Scotland's people rather than the other way around.”