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by Professor Kirstein Rummery and Craig McAngus of the Fairer Caring Nations, University of Stirling

Would the vision of an independent Scotland as described in the White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future’ be a fairer nation? The White Paper sets out some interesting commitments but leaves some important questions unanswered.

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Designing an appropriate system of benefits and social protection is an important task for any modern state. The first thing the White Paper does is set out the broad principles that the Scottish Government says would guide its long-term approach in an independent Scotland. These include the better integrating the design of taxes, benefits and public services, and an emphasis on a ‘preventative approach’ that is hoped to reduce costs and improve outcomes. These are laudable aims.

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The contours of the referendum debate have become clear with a year to go before the vote. Agreement has been reached on the question to be asked. There will, no doubt, be a few surprises over the next year but the broad picture is unlikely to change.

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