Scottish local elections
Labour plans higher taxes for public services
Rowley calls for ‘honesty in politics’
Scottish Labour has unveiled a tax-raising strategy ahead of the local elections.
It proposes 1p on the basic rate of income tax, raising the top rate to 50p, introducing a tourist tax, and scrapping the council tax.
Deputy leader Alex Rowley, announcing the party’s programme at a briefing in Edinburgh today, called for a new era of ‘honest politics’ to decide the sort of public services the country wants.
The party wants Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to amend his draft Budget, announced on 15 December, to include the additional 1p levy on income tax that would raise £500 million.
Those earning below £21,000 would see no change, while those on the median salary of £28,000 would pay £65 a year in extra tax.
Workers on £41,000, such as a police sergeant, would pay £203 more. An MSP earning £61,000 would pay an extra £526 and the First Minister would fork out £1,786 in further tax on her £151,000 salary.
Responding to questions from the media, Mr Rowley said that raising the top rate of tax would raise between £70m and £120m which would be invested into education.
The party is calling for a decentralising of power down to local councils which would be given greater control over investment in public services.
“Scotland is one of the most centralised countries in the western world,” he said. “This centralist approach has led to much weaker relationships between local and central government.
“You cannot control and run local public services from Holyrood.”
He called for a national house building strategy and a local delivery plan for every council area, led by local councils.
“By doing this they can identify the land, the planning requirements, the local housing need and create a partnership with builders and training providers.”
He said the forthcoming debate on the draft Budget will focus around £327m of cuts. “That is not our figure. It is confirmed by the Independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre, while Cosla has made a similar calculation.”
Mr Rowley said Labour would abolish the council tax in line, fulfilling a pledge made by the SNP is 2007.
“Ten years later they [the SNP] are not going to abolish the council tax, they are going to tinker around the edges,” he said.
“They have the nerve to put it up by 3% and they claim this is an increase in funding that they are giving to local councils. It is not.”
Labour, he said, would introduce a fairer system that would mean 80% of households would see their bills fall.
The party wants Mr Mackay to introduce a local tourist tax and a land value tax which would drive economic activity and development.