ALMOST every day there is another announcement of rising consumer costs, higher taxes and higher interest rates, coupled with the unwinding effects of Brexit and the challenge of climate change. All of these issues are sapping the energy of a weary population struggling to emerge from the pandemic.
Then, to add to the gloom, we are told that our National Insurance contributions do not entitle us to a state pension in an independent Scotland.
Never has an urgent and generous government response been more needed, yet the British establishment is throwing in the crumbs of a loan to defer us paying part of the energy bills, while the Scottish government seeks to mitigate the worst excesses of Westminster’s attack on us all using the limited powers it has.
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Things are now becoming so urgent that Michael Matheson, our Cabinet Secretary for Energy, fears for the lives of some of us.
The time is near when the Scottish Government’s reasons for its limited actions will be seen as excuses by the people of Scotland.
I have always subscribed to the idea that whoever controls the money controls the outcome of the referendum.
It is time for our Prime Minister to be bold and control the money.
It can be accepted that the current devolution regulation limits the type of taxation the Scottish Parliament can introduce, but the same regulation does not limit the amount of public funding it can raise.
Virtually any challenge or problem we face in Scotland – whether economic, social, cultural, educational, local, health and international – can stem from our land and its stewardship.
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Without our land reform, we are minor players in all activities, whereas if we embrace land reform and recognize its fundamental ability to raise much more public funds under the sole control of our government, we can transform all of our lives now. and drive that unbridgeable gulf between us and Westminster which will hasten independence.
Every report and statement by commissions, think tanks and government ministers on land reform and its complexities is nothing more than an excuse to delay.
In conversation with a Scottish government minister, he suggested that a new national land tax was beyond Holyrood’s powers. I don’t know who sold him this line, but I urge him and others to read and understand the terms of Section 80I of Scots Law. No such restriction exists.
Our people need the money, now as a Universal Citizens Income of £200 a week for every child and adult. The Scottish Government can provide this now through an annual ground rent model that does not need a protracted consultative and legislative process to happen. It does not need an appraised property or land. This is called the Annual Ground Floor and Roof Rent (AGFRR). It is based on the space you own.
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The Land Register with its cadastral plan, the General Register of Sasines and Revenue Scotland all exist, work closely together and are essential elements of AGFRR.
The only missing link is registering land and property owners to pay AGFRR, and that only involves adding a section to the Revenue Scotland website where private and public sector land owners register their property and their ground. Failure to register entitles the Scottish Government to repossess unregistered land/property. Payment cannot be avoided, regardless of location or owner.
The legislation will be simple. It empowers the Scottish Government to define types of land using existing designations and to charge a rate per square meter on space held and abolishes all existing Scottish taxes, commercial rates and council tax and sets a rate zero for tax on earned income.
Our government will calculate its budget for the coming year to include the UCI and to allocate the cost between pitch types by varying the pitch type rate to ensure ability to pay.
The Scottish Government does not even need to consult HMRC or obtain UK Government consent to introduce AGFRR or issue UCI.
All the preparatory work has been done. Emergency legislation could be drafted very quickly if the political will is there.
Almost everyone will be better off. Poverty will be overcome and we will all have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives by participating in our country’s economy.