A wealthy businessman is so sure that the outcome of the Referendum will be No that he recently put a £600,000 bet on it. But what if he’s wrong? A sore loss for him no doubt, but what will it mean for the rest of us?
The Scottish Government has published 670 pages worth of detail about what an independent Scotland will look like, but campaigners on the No side have rebuffed much of what it contains. Is there anything we can be sure of if Scotland votes Yes?
1) Scotland will be an independent country and the Scottish Parliament will have new powers in the economy, taxation, welfare, energy and defence.
2) There will be no more Scottish MPs. A general election in an independent Scotland will be held in May 2016 and this will decide the first Scottish Government charged with leading a fully independent Scotland.
3) Ahead of independence, there will be a series of negotiations with the UK Government to determine its conditions. Will we keep the pound? What proportion of the national debt is ours? How will pensions work now for Scots who have paid into UK pensions during their working lives?
4) Independence will happen in March 2016, so the current Scottish Government will still be in power (even only for a few months) and it will have a big hand in shaping what it looks like.
5) Their White Paper outlines what an independent Scotland will look like if they are the first Government elected in 2016. It promises:
6) “A transformational extension of childcare”, aimed at making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up, and making it easier for parents – especially mothers – to return to work. The proposed new plans would see 2, 3 and 4 year olds being eligible for 30 hrs of flexible childcare per week, saving families £4,600 per year. Critics have stressed that under devolution Scotland already has the power to implement these reforms.
7) The White Paper has outlined that in an independent Scotland the “bedroom tax” will be abolished. Earlier this year Labour and SNP MSPs reached an agreement to budget for £50 million of funds reserved to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax in Scotland. An independent Scotland would be able to abolish the Act altogether and the White Paper outlines this will save 82,500 households, including 15,500 households with children £50 per month.
8) The White Paper promises a halt to roll-out of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments in Scotland, with the intention that future Scottish Governments will develop reforms to the welfare system to ensure it meets Scotland’s needs.
This may present opportunities for deaf children and their families in Scotland to influence a new welfare system, and avoid the introduction of Personal Independence Payments which NDCS lobbied against last year.
9) Alex Salmond has been clear, rocks will melt before University tuition fees are introduced in Scotland. University education is already free at the point of access for Scottish students, but the White Paper suggests having full control of finance in Scotland will allow sustainable funding options to be pursued to make sure this remains the case into the future.
10) The fact remains that control of the many vital services for deaf children and their families is already devolved to Scottish Government and so much will remain unchanged in an independent Scotland. The way that schools, colleges, hospitals, audiology services and social services are run is unlikely to change given that they are already designed and delivered locally.
The latest YouGov poll sees Yes at 35% compared with No at 55%. But even if there is a No vote that won’t mean complete status quo. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have signed a three party pledge that Scotland will be given new tax and legal powers in the event of a No vote in September.
So what could the No scenario mean for Scotland, and for deaf children and their families? Check out the blog next week where we’ll explore this important question.