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Scottish Budget debate

SNP accused of reversing pledges to lower tax

Derek Mackay

Derek Mackay: argues that ‘Scots will pay less tax’ (photo by Terry Murden)

The Scottish Tories claim today that senior members of the SNP have spoken on 20 occasions about the benefits of cutting tax to help Scotland’s economy.

Ahead of today’s debate on the draft Scottish budget, the Tories says that instead of reducing tax, the SNP will make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK.

They refer to various senior figures including Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and John Swinney who have spoken about slashing various rates and how this would boost growth.

The Tories say the SNP promised voters in recent election manifestos that there would be no income tax rise.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser accused the SNP of repeatedly making a virtue out of tax cuts.

The SNP used to never tire of talking about how tax cuts across various areas would help Scotland’s economy,” he said.

“But now that entire ethos has been dropped, and substituted with a drive to make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK.

“The nationalists want to hit hardworking Scots in the pocket, and from what Labour have been saying in recent days, they would go even further.

“The Scottish Conservatives are now the only party at Holyrood who want workers to keep more of their own money, and create a high-wage, low-tax economy which works for everyone.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will use today’s debate on his draft budget, presented before Christmas, to argue that 55% of taxpayers will pay less than they would in the rest of the UK, while higher earners will face a modest increase.

The SNP government argues that its proposals will increase health spending by £400 million, lift the public sector pay cap and provide a package of investment in the economy. 

SNP MSP Ivan McKee said: “The draft budget shows that where Scotland has the power, the SNP will take a different, fairer approach – and give Scots the best deal in the UK.

“In contrast, Labour and the Tories have shown themselves to be completely unfit for government.”

The SNP has accused Labour of rushing out an “error-strewn set of proposals” and “fantasy figures” which do not add up and which cannot be implemented. 

Mr McKee added that the Scottish Tory plan to give a £500m tax cut to high earners and big business “would leave our public services with a black hole”.

Labour claims there will be cuts to ‘lifeline services’ and that the SNP’s proposed income tax changes do not raise enough revenue.

Labour has put forward alternative proposals to raise an additional £540m to be invested in public services.

The SNP says Labour would not be able to raise a single penny next year under its plans for a new tourist tax and land value tax as the party’s analysis “misunderstands how non-domestic rates are collected.”

Labour has outlined a radical alternative to the draft budget, which asks the richest to pay more and delivers more economic powers to local government.

Speaking ahead of the debate, the party’s finance spokesman James Kelly, said: “It’s not good enough to tinker around the edges with as many as 260,000 children living in poverty. We should be looking at a budget that stops the cuts to lifeline services and increases Child Benefit.

“That is why Labour proposed a radical alternative to the draft budget, which asks the richest to pay their fair share. 

“Today we will force a vote asking parliament to recognise that the SNP’s proposed tax rates do not go far enough. 

“A penny on the top rate doesn’t cut it when the top 1 per cent own more than the bottom 50 per cent put together. We need a radical budget for real change, not more tinkering.”

Scottish government proposals
Income range Tax rate per pound
£11,850 – £13,850 19p
£13,851 – £24,000 20p
£24,001 – £44,273 21p
£44,273 – £150,000 41p
Above £150,000 46p
Scottish Labour proposals
Income range Tax rate per pound
£11,850 – £13,850 19p
£13,851 – £24,000 20p
£24,001 – £42,385 21p
£42,385 – £60,000 41p
£60,001 – £100,000 46p
Above £100,000 50p


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