The Scottish National Party (SNP) is calling on Westminster parties to back proposals to devolve powers over the minimum wage to Scotland.
A number of major charities including Engender, Poverty Alliance, Children 1st and SCVO (Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations) have backed the proposal, which could help tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland.
The charity Barnardo’s called for the Scottish Parliament to have the “ability to ‘top-up’, or increase, the level of rights provided in ‘Employment and industrial relations’ – which includes powers over the minimum wage.
A survey carried out by the Poverty Alliance revealed widespread public support for devolving minimum wage powers to Scotland, with 91.5 per cent of respondents saying “Scotland should have the power to set and enforce the minimum wage”.
SNP published a poll in October this year, which found that 66% of respondents wanted the Scottish Parliament to have control over all areas of government policy, except from defence and foreign affairs. 75% of respondents wanted Scotland to have full control over the welfare and benefits system.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland badly needs more powers over employability and welfare to ensure that we are better equipped to tackle inequality, and undo the damage of Westminster’s unfair cuts that hit the poorest hardest.
“That is why I am today calling on each of the Westminster parties – including the Scottish Labour leadership candidates – to do the right thing and commit to supporting this positive proposal from civic Scotland.
“Under Westminster, the cost of living has rocketed as wages have stagnated and in-work poverty has risen. The UK wide minimum wage has not given us the flexibility we need to take action to help people.
“With two thirds of children in Scotland currently in poverty being in working households, and 100,000 more children facing poverty by 2020 as a result of Tory welfare reforms, now is the time to take action.
“As Scotland’s party of social democracy, we have already demonstrated that where we have the power, we act to make a difference – we are the first Scottish Government ever to pay the living wage to all employees covered by our pay policy.
“With power to set and enforce our own minimum wage, we could go further and lift thousands more out of poverty by committing to raise it at least in line with inflation.
“Respected and expert organisations across the country are calling for these powers to be devolved to help tackle poverty. The people of Scotland expect Westminster to deliver the extensive new powers promised in the Vow that was made in the run up to the referendum. Power to set and enforce our own minimum wage should be among them.”