The Social Justice and Fairness Commission was established by Nicola Sturgeon to consider options for independence, but also action that could be delivered now, to make Scotland a better place to live for us all. As we look to rebuild from the current crisis created by the pandemic, our work has a vital role to play in harnessing the very best ideas being discussed and distilling them into workable, coherent proposals. Some of these we could take forward now, while others would require independence. 

As we recover and rebuild we must not return to the way things were. We can use many of the changes we have already embraced to create a fairer nation where everyone is recognised and rewarded for the contribution they make. 

As the Commission’s Convener and Vice Convener we want to set out how, as we come to terms with living with the presence of this virus, we can all play our part in building a better Scotland with wellbeing at its heart, and how the work of the Commission can help us with that process.

The current situation has shone a stark light on the failings of our society – not the least the fact that the ‘safety net’ that many imagined was there, simply did not exist. 

The safety net did not simply wither away over time, it has been deliberately dismantled because of the political ideology of successive UK Governments. While most are quite rightly putting party politics aside at this time to focus on saving lives, we should not forget that the impact of lockdown is political. And that if we want to build something better than we have right now, then that will require a big shift in political thinking and decisions, as well as the actions of every one of us. 

Progress is always constrained by what is considered achievable and desirable. One of the most important lessons we must learn from the current situation is that we can make changes – big changes – when we need to. One of those changes must reflect the need to properly recognise and reward those undertaking work essential to our society and wellbeing.

Our ambition, as we recover from the pandemic, is constrained only by what we collectively consider is achievable and desirable. Our new normal must deliver a better way of living for everyone, one that also protects our environment, as our fortunes are bound to the health of our planet. 

The Social Justice and Fairness Commission has been grappling with a number of fundamental questions that have been brought into even sharper focus by the current pandemic. One of those is the question of how to provide a safety net through a secure income for all. We have been considering a Universal Basic Income, as a means to provide that safety net, as well as a mechanism that values unpaid work such as caring or volunteering in the community. 

The current situation is understandably fuelling demands for a Universal Basic Income. The bigger questions to resolve going forward are how this could be delivered, and at what level. But just as importantly, how a Universal Basic Income (UBI) would sit within a wider system of state support. What use is UBI if the cost of living, including essential services, are so high that they negate any benefit? UBI is a starting point, which must be considered alongside how we provide universal services such childcare, education, healthcare, housing, social care and public transport.

The question we need to ask ourselves is ‘what is essential to our wellbeing’, and it is the role of every single one of us to deliver it. Governments are the conduit for this collective will – there to govern on our behalf, according to our priorities. 

In 1942, the Beveridge Report was considered revolutionary. It laid the foundation for the creation of the Welfare State and the NHS, and a reimagining of the social contract between the citizen and the state. We need that kind of ambition now, and a reset of the relationship between governments and the people they are there to serve. 

Just before the pandemic hit Scotland, the Social Justice and Fairness Commission was about to launch the next phase in our consultation process and undertake a series of National Assemblies to discuss the three key areas we were focusing on – health and wellbeing, providing a secure income for all and providing homes and communities for all. Clearly, like much of life, this was put on hold. 

However, we feel the time is right to open out that discussion. We are therefore making our consultation website live. Responses can be submitted by individuals or people can use the toolkit to hold online group discussions. We’ll also be reaching out through social media, to bring the discussion into homes across Scotland. 

As a Commission, we have always wanted our work to be open and inclusive, and for consultation to inform our work every step of the way. In light of current circumstances, we want to reach out in a slightly different way. So we will be publishing discussion papers based on options we are considering. There are some fantastic thought-provoking pieces being published right now, and we want to harness the very best of those discussions to inform our work.

Our remit as a Commission is to produce a route map to the real prize of independence – a new social contract between our government and our citizens. A social contact that will build an inclusive, rights-based society – where everyone is cared for and supported from baby box to grave, in which everyone can fully participate and be given the opportunities they need to flourish. 

As we begin the road to recovery from this pandemic, and securing a brighter future for Scotland, our focus must be on building something better than our old normal. Please join our discussion about how to make that happen. 

Shona Robison MSP & Neil Gray MP

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22 thoughts to “Public Consultation Launched

  • Carol Mair

    Is this consultation open to the general public, or just SNP members ?

    • admin

      The consultation is open to the public, not just SNP members.

  • Louise Forde

    Justice for all means an income for all so that no one lives in poverty, equally everyone should have adequate accommodation. These things are achievable and would reduce ill health caused by lack of these essentials, which in return takes pressure off NHS and social services, which then saves money. A consideration when looking at a universal basic income

    • Tom Tomney

      I truly believe we must take a serious look at how we treat the Disabled and their carers. Carers play an important rule particularly when that carer is a spouse, son ,daughter, brother or sister. Many kinship carers usually need to put their own life on hold to care for a loved one. More often than not they give up well paid employment to care for their loved one. As a society we must find some way of giving them a reasonable standard of living considering how much money the save the state. Current carers allowance rates are a joke. Carers allowance should also be tax free. Carers allowance should not affect other benefits. Retirement could also be phased in . for example people start winding down the hours they work from 60 years old gradually cutting their hours whilst training someone to take their place when they completely retire. At 65.

      • Alexander McArthur

        Relative to the ‘Carers’ question: Is it not time to recognise the true value of ‘mother care’ and abolish Family Allowance and replace it with a Mother’s Wage which truly acknowledges the value of mothering? In so doing rectifying the present unfair system which penalises mothers who stay home – thus making career sacrifices AND not being credited with National Health Insurance contributions to boot: The lack of which severely affects pension rights in later life. My wife mothered 6 children from 1970 onward, sacrificed her career prospects and suffered pension rights loss relative to ‘working’ mothers – whose children were farmed out in many cases into situations which were detrimental to their development. Time for Change!

  • Catherine Russell-Jones

    I want to see inheritance tax being unavoidable, no deed of trust etc. I am happy for govt bonds. I would buy some. Same principle as ERNIE. Tax to broaden. New Higher band at 45-50%. Corp Tax to have degree of parity with income tax. No govt support or contracts for companies with off shore positions eg Jersey or Caymen etc. Raise council tax for some of us, they need the £. Probably consult on how to pay for social care. Needs to be cradle to grave, not care home and conversation on how it is paid for. For a universal income it needs tax to change. Needs a clearer dissemination between Small and medium businesses and large ones. More social housing, esp sheltered housing. Happy to have no private care homes, just council run. Tax the oil more when we are indep. Use the £ for environmental energy projects. A sNHS bond?
    Please, please, get us out of this toxic union. We are a good country, a capable country and we deserve better than this. We believe in fairness, hard work and we are strong. We could have bonds for the education of our 18+ for apprenticeships. This is the time for radical changes, a new beginning. I don’t even care if we don’t rejoin EU, a Norway agreement would be ok. I just want us unified, welcoming immigrants and refugees. This is our country, not England’s northern pantry.

  • Jane Jones

    This is a great and much needed step forward. I heartily endorse what you are doing. The need to be bold has never been more necessary. It is crucial to grasp this quickly and catch the wider public’s new mood for radical change in the light of all that has been made visible about our state of inequity. All power to your elbow!

  • Robert Black

    Are we looking for a fair country or a wealthy country. Fair could mean everyone having the same but everyone being poor.
    When President Lula came to power in Brazil he was determined to do something about the terrible inequality in the country. He was determined to redistribute wealth. He said “If I am going to redistribute wealth I need some wealth to redistribute. I am going to be fiercely pro business. I am going to tax business fairly, and I am going to use the proceeds to improve the conditions of the poor in Brazil”. For a long time (until his government became embedded in corruption) it worked, and the conditions of the poor was improved enormously. Hue ge numbers of people were lifted out of poverty.
    If Scotland is to have wealth to redistribute it first needs to generate wealth. I see no representation on the Commission from the business community who will be essential to wealth generation if Scotland is to become a better place to live.

  • Mhairi Wood

    Freedom is what Scotland needs & deserves moving forward. We have tolerated enough nonsense it’s time to walk away, for a fair society where the people matter … not just their tax money!!!

  • Andrew Balfour

    As a SNP member I would very interested in participating in any discussion. I feel it is important for the Scottish public to be proactive in the Nations future.

  • Chris Cameron

    Delighted to see this & can assure you that as a grateful citizen of such a beautiful country, I am enthusiastic to follow your progress & will contribute where I can. Well done & thank you!

  • Karen Jamieson

    There is an article in the guardian from economist Thomas Picketty and many others, which I agree that human labour should be democratised, this is the way we must steer the global economy.
    The present system which is based on debt, profits etc, needs to be gradually phased out and replaced by the framework that is outlined in the article I have quoted.
    If this is not done, and we stay with this failed economic model that we currently have, the global economy and society will collapse, with very severe consequences for humanity and our beautiful planet, which could end up in humanity being made extinct…

  • Allan Carver

    Cannot find fault with proposals and, for me, the sooner the better.

  • Alan dickson brown

    How about a minimum income guarantee, say 1000 pounds a month. What is not spent can be topped up to a 1000 for the next, that way you can’t save, only spend. If you want something that’s more than 1000 you can work to earn enuf to purchase said item, also you can save earnings only upto 10,000 this way nobody is left behind, after all we are all equal & I mean we are all equal none of this my god we are all equal quote Madonna in her bath. I never thought anything else.

  • Donald McQueen

    This development may attact more people to the rightful cause of independence. I certainly hope so.
    Although all my family still live in Scotland, I have lived in Northern Engand for fifteen years now.
    I am a passionate patriot though, and engage thoroughly with politics at home and internationally. This brings me to the purpose of my enquiry. Obviously, I cannot vote in Scottish elections because I am not resident in Scotland. Regarding the consultation, will the same residency rule apply to participate as for elections?
    Thanks – and my very best wishes for this initiative!

  • David Garrioch

    While I accept, moving forward, wealth has to be created, as a “baby-boomer” I am aware there’s a great deal of local capital that could be put to use now and is currently languishing in banks doing nothing.

    Like many other seniors, I suspect, I would be willing to invest in public service initiatives. In the past I’ve looked for these – have I missed Government associated projects to which I could contribute ? I’ve invested in e.g. a crowd-funded distillery but what would interest me would be something such as a Scottish – based poultry hatchery so that our smallholders and farmers could access, at reasonable prices, hatching eggs or day-olds for growing on for broilers as well as egg layers. Essentially we don’t have such a resource in Scotland at present, since what might be available is ghastly fast growing American Ross or Cobb birds which produce the tasteless stuff available in supermarkets.

  • Trish Traynor

    Why are we not getting perfectly deliverable aims, like decent homes right? Councils like Edinburgh are too keen to join with millionaire businessmen on such pointless ventures as West Princes Street Gardens vandalism, to bother about council properties being wind and watertight! This sounds like a window dressing initiative, and I have no idea who the people steering it are, apart from the former Health Minister. I switch off when I see stuff like ’going forward’. It’s just jargon to me and I’m sure I’m not the only person who doesn’t get it. Fair to say that I have Asperger’s and don’t think like lots of you do but this is just like trying to understand a knitting pattern in Klingon for me. I don’t even understand the aims! 🤷‍♀️

  • Deely Cumming

    To be honest, while we are still tied to the U.K. Government, it’s going to be very difficult implementing social justice and fairness. In the meantime, perhaps it would be worthwhile that care and nursing homes are taken under the umbrella of local councils all over Scotland, or even the NHS. It seems that those who have a wee hoose they’ve paid for with hard earned cash, have to use the money from this to pay for their care, whilst those who have no property to sell get their care free anyway. It all seems a bit unfair. Dementia, health problems are just that – illness – and illness is cared for by nurses and carers. The smaller cottage hospitals, of which there are not that many left, used to do a great job, but there is still one nearby, however, my elderly aunt, who was quite content there as she was close to home, had to go, to free up a bed. She is unable to be alone in her home as she has a rectal prolapse and a bit of dementia, so she does need care, and because of the legalities, it has to be registered careers, not her nieces and nephews. So now, she is paying for care, in a care home, where she is being looked after wonderfully well, however, she’s paying to be imprisoned, whereas those who have nothing, are being for anyway. The care home sector really needs to not be privatised. The staff are not always qualified, frequently changed, poorly paid, do very long shifts and have to deal with a lot of stress. The management, are not always what they seem. Our oldies deserve a great deal more. Just because bodies and brains start to break down while still alive does not mean they are not worthy of care and attention without having to pay for everything they have contributed to all their lives. Other illnesses get free healthcare and long term hospital stays and kids get free childcare with other funding available for their parents. Something needs to be done to help our oldies, other than the care home sector, in their twilight years. It is not always possible to be family, and with them 24/7 watching them plummet, feel embarrassed and ashamed because they feel like ‘useless auld gits’ and that’s how my elderly aunt, at 94, feels.

  • Mr John Robson

    Might I suggest that you alter your site font so that it is not using YELLOW writing on a WHITE background. This is extremely difficult to read

    • Mr John Robson

      What happened to my comment prior to this one about the font? Why was it not published? Good manners and administration would surely be that if it or anything I said in it was not appropriate YOU shouls advise me about it rather than just apply censorship!!!!
      Please provide me with a response
      John Robson

  • Linda Reid

    Is there a cut of date for responses to this consultation? Can’t find a date and a group of us are working on a detailed response.

    • Mr John Robson

      What Is the point of making comments and asking questions if No responses are made?
      See Linda Reid 9th June


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