THE Scotland Bill that begins its journey through the legislative process today will transform our Scottish Parliament into one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world, transferring power over billions of pounds of tax and welfare.

These new powers coming to Scotland mean we can do things differently. We should.

Holyrood will have the power to set income tax rates and bands to deliver fair taxes. The power to borrow so we can build schools and hospitals, roads and housing. The powers over welfare to support those who, through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times.

The Vow was delivered, but I want to go further. I will amend the Scotland Bill to give the Scottish Parliament more powers. Scottish Labour believes that Holyrood should have the final say over welfare in Scotland.

I also want to devolve housing benefit so that more of the £1.8billion housing benefit budget we spend in Scotland is used to build homes, not line the pockets of private landlords.

But Scottish Labour is also clear that the Barnett Formula should be retained. That’s the UK-wide deal which guarantees higher public spending in Scotland.

We do not see the point in cutting ourselves off from UK-wide taxes whilst imposing further austerity in Scotland, which is exactly what full fiscal autonomy would do.

More powers are coming. The question now is, what for? Scottish Labour would use them to begin to build the fairest nation on Earth. A future Scottish Labour government would use them to ask the wealthiest few in Scotland to pay a little more in tax.

A 50p top rate of tax on those earning more than £150,000 a year means we could invest an extra £125million in our schools, to support teachers, employ more classroom assistants and make sure our children and grandchildren leaves school able to read, write and count properly.

Education in Scotland has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. Scottish Labour would use new powers to tackle the problems.

The SNP said before the General Election that they supported fair taxes, but they seem to have gone quiet on this issue recently. There’s no point demanding powers if you aren’t going to use them to changes lives. We can change lives by doing more than devolve powers to a Parliament – we should devolve powers to people.

Scottish Labour wants to see job-creating powers devolved not just from Westminster to Holyrood, but to our communities too. That is why we want to see the Work Programme devolved to local authorities as quickly as possible.

The economic challenges of Glasgow are different to those of Aberdeen or Edinburgh, and we should give our communities the power and the flexibility to create jobs as quickly as possible.

The Scotland Bill will devolve the Work Programme to Holyrood; I would like to see a commitment from the SNP government in Edinburgh that they will devolve it to our councils. Trust our local communities to make the decisions which will build a fairer economy.

My hope is that the Scotland Bill fires the starting gun on a process of redistribution in Scotland: redistribution of wealth and of power.

For too long politics in Scotland has been about process, not polices; about powers, not purpose; and about parliaments, not people. It’s time to change that and change our country. A Scotland Bill as amended by Labour will deliver real change to the lives of people across Scotland.