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Labour tells SNP to fight wealth inequality together

THE SNP government has been urged to work with Labour to reduce Scotland’s high level of wealth inequality. 

Recent statistics show that the wealthiest 2 per cent of households account for 15 per cent of wealth north of the border and the bottom 20 per cent account for only 1 per cent. 

While a typical household in the top 10 per cent of the population possesses around £1.6 million, those in the bottom 10 per cent have just £7,500. 

The pressures on poorer communities are also highlighted by huge household debt, which for 2.9 per cent of families is at “unmanageable” levels, While another 34 per cent remain financially vulnerable. 

The SNP administration at Holyrood has now been urged to boost funding for local authorities to help redress this imbalance. 

Scottish Labour hopes this will benefit the poorest people by improving public services.

MSP Rhoda Grant said: “This inequality on paper is made flesh in the existence of foodbanks and payday loans.

“If the SNP government works with Scottish Labour, we can bring an end to this inequality and improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Scots.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “The levels of inequality highlighted by these wealth statistics are unacceptable.

“We are committed to building a fairer and more prosperous Scotland where everyone has an opportunity to build wealth and save for their retirement.”

Labour has also pressed the SNP to raise the level of the student bursary for care-experienced young people in Scotland. 

The payment was set up in 2017 and matched the living wage at the time, but it has not been increased since. 

Had the bursary kept pace with the real living wage, it would now be worth over £8,800-£7000 more than the amount currently offered.

Labour has now called for an overhaul of student funding. 

Iain Gray MSP said: “Scottish Labour would reform student support, beginning by implementing the minimum student income which the Parliament voted for last year, but the government has failed to deliver on.”

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said the bursary would be expanded next year, but he did not commit to the increase and claimed that free tuition means that students are not being burdened with debt.

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