UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Progressive tax the answer to funding services

Johann Lamont presented the people of Scotland with some very difficult and very pertinent questions last Tuesday on the future provision and funding of public services. She was absolutely correct that world class public services cannot be provided when funding is being cut.

As a country, Scotland needs to answer the twin questions of what public services do we want and how do we pay for them? Ms Lamont asked what is progressive about a chief executive not paying for his prescriptions or a lawyer not paying for their childs tuition fees?

The answer is simple and that is Scotland is a country which believes your parents' health or your child's education should not depend on your bank balance. As a nation we should provide world class health care and world class education because it is the right thing to do.

The answers to Ms Lamont's questions lie hidden in her own speech. A fair and progressive tax system which ensures those with the broadest financial backs take on a fair share of contributing to society. Rather than asking why those earning over £100,000 should not pay for their medicines or education Ms Lamont should take the opportunity to ask why they should not make a fair contribution to Scotland.

She was absolutely right that the freezing of the Council Tax means deterioration in public services provided at a local level. Those who benefit from the freezing of the Council Tax are of course those who do not use public services but wrap their wealth like a protective cloak around themselves to buy services the majority of people could not access.

The people of Scotland stand with UNISON in defending public services and funding them fairly. It would be the greatest irony for any political party to argue that the way to protect public services is to cut them. Scottish Labour has a genuine opportunity to speak for the people of Scotland, it is the time to take it.