Murphy: Devo-Max Within Scotland

Jim Murphy is set to challenge the First Minister to say whether she supports devo-max within Scotland.

The Labour leadership candidate says he wants the maximum devolution of the new Smith powers coming to Holyrood.

The former Secretary of State believes many of the new welfare powers being handed over should be transferred immediately to local communities.

During a speech in Glasgow, Mr Murphy announced:

  • Setting up an Anti-Poverty Fund to meet local needs, the funding for which will include proceeds from a Scottish 50p top rate of tax and any Scottish Welfare Fund underspend
  • Empower local councils through the newly devolved power to top-up benefit payments
  • Devolve the Work Programme to local communities

Jim Murphy said:

"Travelling around Scotland as a Glaswegian I was taken aback at how strongly people felt about the centralisation of power with the Edinburgh Government.

"In many places I went in the Highlands someone would share their anger at the loss of local control over policing.

"Some have said that this centralisation is a result of the nationalist world view: local and regional identities within Scotland are secondary to 'the national project'.

"Whatever the cause, the consequence is clear. The current government in Edinburgh has centralised power in an unprecedented way.

"In truth all governments of all persuasions have a centralising instinct but in a post devolution Scotland no Scottish Government has acted on this scale.

"I know from my own time as a Minister how frustrating delivering change can be.

"The all-too-slow pace of reform makes you want to grab more control – but this can be self-defeating.

"So if amassing power centrally has been the characteristic of the SNP government I want Scottish Labour to do the opposite.

"To win back people's trust Scottish Labour must show that we do not simply want power for our own interests.

"I want Scotland to gain new responsibilities so that we can spread them across the country and I want Scottish Labour to win power so that we hand it back again.

"It makes no sense to just transfer powers from one capital city, London, to another capital city, Edinburgh.

"We need to go further.

"My motto is 'devo-max' within Scotland.

"Not for ideological reasons or to continue on the debate about where power lies, but so that we can just get on and make a difference in communities across Scotland.

"Where it makes sense to pool and share resources across the UK then we support that.

"Pensions are a good example of that.

"But there are many areas where we can devolve across Scotland.

"I will start with welfare, where the most powerful way to change is for central government in Edinburgh to give away the new constitutional powers it is gaining.

"As we implement the Smith Agreement we should seek to bring these new powers as close to local communities as is possible.

"We should devolve not just to councils but also to local coalitions involving councils, business, charities and other government agencies like as the NHS.

"I don't want a one-size fits all welfare state within Scotland.

"Recognising that Scotland is made up of diverse communities and regions makes economic and democratic sense.

"Devolving welfare power across Scotland can trigger prosperity and tackle poverty.

"I want to see ideas and innovation flourish right across Scotland.

"So here's what I will do.

"I will devolve the Work Programme to local communities.

"Councillors, charities and local organisations working together in different parts of Scotland are far better placed to end the cycle of worklessness and deprivation than the Government in Edinburgh.

"The UK and Scottish Governments need to work together to make sure we can get going with this new power on day one.

"I will also establish a Scottish Anti-Poverty Fund to meet local needs, drawing from proceeds from a Scottish 50p top rate of tax and any underspend from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

"I will use the power to supplement payments, devolved by the Smith Agreement, to empower local communities to tackle poverty in their area.

"Imagine what is possible with newly devolved powers.

"Working in areas of the highest demand for food banks local areas could take real action to ensure that families, and working families in particular, do not have to rely on charity to feed their kids."

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