Scotland’s political parties should vow to use the new powers to build a fairer country, Scottish Labour said today.

Commenting as Scottish Parliament debated the Scotland Bill, Opportunity spokesperson and Smith Commission member Iain Gray outlined how Labour would use the new powers to cut the gap between the richest and the rest in our classrooms.

Labour would use the new powers over tax to invest in education to cut the attainment gap, and new powers over social security to build a fairer Scottish welfare state.

Scottish Labour has set out different choices on tax to stop the cuts to schools and other vital services – including setting a Scottish rate of Income Tax one penny higher than the rate set by George Osborne; setting a 50p top rate of tax for those earning more than £150,000 to invest extra in education; and not passing on George Osborne’s increase in the threshold for the top 15% of earners.

The SNP have not spelled out what they would do on tax – except back the Tory plan not to increase the basic rate.

Scottish Labour Opportunity spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“The new powers coming to Scotland means we have the chance to radically change Scotland and build a fairer country. Every party should vow to use these powers to stop the cuts and grow our economy.

The most important economic investment we can make in our country’s future is in education, and the most important policy we can pursue in education is cutting the gap between the richest and the rest. There is now no reason for the SNP to cut hundreds of millions from schools and local services.

Faced with the choice between using the powers of the Parliament to invest in the future or carrying on with the SNP’s cuts to schools, Labour will always choose to use the powers.

Under Labour’s plans to use the new powers the wealthiest few would pay the most, including those earning more than £150,000 a year. I want to use that extra money to put power into the hands of teachers, who are best placed to take decisions about how we close the gap between the richest and the rest.

We can use the new powers over social security to lift children out of poverty. Labour will abolish the bedroom tax, uprate carer’s allowance, introduce a full grant for looked after children entering higher education and double the sure start maternity grant for new parents who are struggling.”