Scottish Budget

Sunak says Robison must explain higher tax plan

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak: Holyrood must explain why taxes are higher (pic: Terry Murden)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told Scotland’s Finance Secretary Shona Robison she will have to explain why Holyrood is making Scots pay more tax than the rest of the UK.

On a visit to Scotland Mr Sunak also questioned why the Scottish government was not following plans to give eligible firms in retail, hospitality and leisure 75% off business rates bills.

As he focuses on delivering national insurance cuts and, eventually, lower income tax bills, he said: “Increasingly, the SNP government is taking a different approach, and it’s ultimately up to them to explain that to people here in Scotland.”

Ms Robison will deliver her budget today and is expected to introduce a new income tax band for those earning above £75,000, and announce cuts to public services. It is thought she may echo measures by UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove to speed up planning procedures.

SNP ministers blame Westminster for the squeeze on its Holyrood’s budget, but Mr Sunak urged the administration in Edinburgh to “take responsibility for their finances” and to follow the “direction of travel” set out in the Autumn Statement.

The divergence between Holyrood and Westminster on income tax means anyone earning around £28,000 already pays more in Scotland than if they lived south of the border. A worker in Scotland on a salary of £50,000 pays about £1,550 more in income tax.

During a visit to food larder in West Lothian, Ms Robison said the Scottish government would defend public services while dealing fairly with some “tough” decisions.

“Sunak has a bit of a cheek pitching up in Scotland to say anything given his autumn statement is deprioritising public spending,” she said. “It is a tough budget, but within those tough choices, what we have done is prioritise the investment in public services.

“That is something the UK government has not done. Our values are first and foremost about how we sustain our public services.”

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