New report shows big demand for more Scottish powers

Nicola Sturgeon signing nomination form

Scotland may have voted to remain in the UK, but a new report highlights that Scots favour much more devolution than on offer.

The research was published in the NIESR economic review and was reportedly done for the ESCR Centre on Constitutional Change by YouGov at the end of last year - after Scotland’s referendum. The research shows that there is significant demand for further powers to be transferred to Holyrood.

  • 55% of Scots want full devolution of housing benefit, with 17% wanting it partly devolved. Just 18% want it to remain in Westminster’s control. Out of all the powers this one has the most demand to be under Holyrood’s control, something which is arguably down to the spare room subsidy - or bedroom tax.
  • 43% want pensions fully devolved, whilst 17% want that area party devolved, indicating a strong demand for pensions to be given to Holyrood. However, 29% would oppose this, and instead support the status quo.

On all other issues polled the poll suggests that the plurality of Scots want each area fully devolved and the majority at least want to see each one partly devolved, indicating a strong demand for a change to the current system. Other areas of power polled were unemployment benefits, disability benefits, income tax, VAT, corporation tax and oil and gas.

The SNP have welcomed the report’s findings, with the party’s Stewart Maxwell, in the SNP's press release, saying that:

“These findings simply highlight the fact the limited powers proposed in the Scotland Bill do not meet the aspirations of people in Scotland. With these key powers in Scotland's hands, we can take action to grow our economy and support the working poor and vulnerable people - rather than remaining wedded to Westminster's obsession with austerity which holds back our economy and hits the poorest people hardest.”

With polls still suggesting that around 45% of Scots want full independence and that over 50% intend to vote SNP in the Scottish parliament elections next year it is no surprise that such a high share of the voting population in Scotland want more devolution. Furthermore, the figures indicate that many people who do not want independence still want more powers for Scotland. The 72% who back at least partial devolution of housing benefit should illustrate this point.

The full SNP press release can be found here, and with it the full report.

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