Scotland politics

Call for new tax and welfare department at Holyrood

Money and tax form Image copyright PA

The next Scottish government should set up a new department for tax and welfare powers coming to Holyrood, a think tank has suggested.

Reform Scotland put forward the plan as MSPs prepare to take responsibility for tax rates and some benefits next year.

It said the issue had "not been touched on" by any of the parties in their manifestos.

Both the SNP and Labour have pledged to set up a new social security agency to take charge of devolved benefits.

Reform Scotland research director Alison Payne said that with new powers coming to Scotland it was an area "in need of a fresh approach".

'Transparent system'

She said: "An issue not touched on by any of the parties is our view that there should be one government department responsible for both the new tax and welfare powers due to be devolved.

"This may at first seem like a small administrative point, but it is about looking to create a better, more coherent and transparent system and not simply replicating what happens at Westminster."

Ms Payne spoke out as Reform Scotland published a comparison of the manifestos produced by the SNP, Labour, Scottish Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

She said: "It is clear from the party manifestos that local government reform will be a key issue for the next parliament.

"The Greens, Lib Dems and Conservatives are all critical of powers being taken away from local government - a stance we would agree with - though it is disappointing how few specific proposals there are to reverse this situation.

"The SNP talk about examining how greater powers can be passed down with regards to schools and health boards, and this too has to be welcomed."

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