SNP abstains in Holyrood debate
MSPs back Labour call for rise in income tax
Alex Rowley: called for tax rise to support public services (photo by Terry Murden)
Taxes are poised to rise for thousands of Scottish workers after the SNP waved through Labour calls for an increase.
The nationalists abstained on a Holyrood motion today that could see taxpayers across Scotland pay higher income tax than the rest of Britain.
The Scottish Tories said that if the SNP government follows the vote in Holyrood with a rise in taxes in the Scottish budget it would be bad for hard-pressed families and for business.
They said the change of approach from the SNP directly contradicts previous manifestos in which such tax increases have been ruled out.
Labour’s motion calling for the government to use its powers to raise tax was passed by 33 votes to 30, with 61 SNP abstentions.
Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “This is the clearest sign yet that the SNP is heading for a tax raid on the majority of Scotland’s workers.
“The nationalists are lurching to the left, and the hardworking people of Scotland will pay the price.
“The Scottish Conservatives are now the only party in Scotland who stand against this tax-grabbing agenda.
“Compounding Scotland’s reputation as the highest-taxed part of the UK will be a disaster for businesses and the economy.”
Scottish Labour Interim leader Alex Rowley was delighted with the vote, saying that a rise in taxes is needed to protect public services.
He said: “This is a significant moment ahead of the budget. Parliament has endorsed Labour’s basic principles on tax and public spending.
“If we are to protect public services we need to be willing to increase taxation – when push came to shove SNP politicians sat on their hands.
“That simply is not good enough. Scotland deserves better than a government that doesn’t know whether it thinks taxes should go up or down.
“The SNP now must respect the will of parliament. Only Labour’s tax plans can stop the cuts and protect public services.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie (right) supported a tax increase and said extra funds raised should be invested in education.
“By abstaining in the parliamentary vote the SNP have accepted that taxes should rise. The job now is to decide exactly what that tax package should be.
“We believe that we need a modest tax rise to invest in education to make it the best in the world again. We don’t want to tax for the sake of it. We want to see a transformational investment in education to give our children the best start in life and provide them with the tools to succeed.
“Taxation is a force for good that has the ability to help change people’s lives and the Scottish Parliament must come together to deliver change.”
Closure of tax offices ‘wrong-headed’
SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said that the UK Government’s plans to close HMRC offices in Scotland are “wrong-headed” and damaging to HMRC operations and local communities.
Leading a debate in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Fabiani is demanding that the Tories heed the warnings coming from local HMRC staff and the Public and Commercial Services Union report, that HMRC should stay in East Kilbride.
HMRC is to relocate offices into a small number of regional hubs, including one in Edinburgh and another in Glasgow.
The Government Property Unit, which is undertaking the search for sites has chosen the New Waverley development in Edinburgh to house 2,900 staff and, as Daily Business reported earlier this month, is expected to opt for the 300,000 sq ft Atlantic Square development in Glasgow.
An East Kilbride Task Force representative, former Cllr Chris Thompson has made clear that East Kilbride stands to lose between £16.3 million and £30.7 million from its economy after its offices close.
Ms Fabiani said: “There has been no consultation with HMRC staff about these closures, no real attempt to question the logistics of relocating to regional offices, no recognition of the expertise that will be lost or the dearth of experience that will result.
“The Tories want to get rid of an HMRC office that has been in East Kilbride since 1969 in order to digitise and save money, and yet the Head of HMRC says the authority may need to hire an extra 5,000 staff to deal with logjam at the border because of Brexit.
“Meanwhile the Department for Exiting the EU has quadrupled in size in the course of a year.
“This is all against a backdrop of Tory pledges to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, a Tory manifesto pledge to keep jobs in local communities and a recognition across the board that aspirations for digitisation are unrealistic and potentially damaging to many people.
“With one in four jobs in East Kilbride potentially at risk if this closure goes ahead we need to stop this dangerous pattern of Tory cuts.”
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