‘Pay more, get less’... with SNP gov­ern­ment

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose SCOT­TISH POLITICAL ED­I­TOR

THE SNP has been chal­lenged to end the tax mis­ery of mid­dle Scot­land and give hard-work­ing fam­i­lies a break.

Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Derek Mackay will un­veil his Bud­get on Wed­nes­day, amid grow­ing pres­sure to pass on UK tax cuts.

Last night, op­po­nents said the SNP was run­ning a ‘pay more, get less’ gov­ern­ment, with in­creas­ing taxes fail­ing to lead to im­proved pub­lic ser­vices.

The Scots Tories also urged Mr Mackay to use al­most £1 bil­lion from the UK Gov­ern­ment to ease the pres­sure on fam­ily bud­gets.

In Oc­to­ber, Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond raised the thresh­old for pay­ing the 40 per cent higher rate of tax to £50,000 a year.

By con­trast, Scots pay 41 per cent on an­nual earn­ings above £43,430.

At present, Scots earn­ing £50,000 pay £850 more than they would in Eng­land. How­ever, if Mr Mackay re­fuses to raise the thresh­old in Scot­land, that will rise to £1,500.

Mr Ham­mond also un­veiled a spend­ing spree in his Oc­to­ber Bud­get, which will de­liver a cash wind­fall for Scot­land.

Murdo Fraser, Scot­tish Tory fi­nance spokesman, said: ‘The SNP has made Scot­land the high­est taxed part of the UK, yet peo­ple are still wait­ing months for can­cer di­ag­noses.

‘The lack of im­prove­ment of pub­lic ser­vices demon­strates be­yond all doubt that the SNP is a pay more, get less gov­ern­ment.

‘The SNP has re­ceived an enor­mous bud­get boost this year of al­most £1 bil­lion.

‘The SNP must give tax­pay­ers a fair deal on tax­a­tion, in­vest in pub­lic ser­vices and no new tax rises.’

With the SNP a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, Mr Mackay must win sup­port for his Bud­get from at least one op­po­si­tion party. He is un­der­stood to be con­fi­dent of a deal with the Greens, but Greens co-con­vener Pa­trick Harvie is de­mand­ing the abo­li­tion of coun­cil tax, a tourist tax and changes to let coun­cils keep busi­ness rates raised.

The Lib Dems have pulled out of talks af­ter the SNP re­fused to rule out an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.

Wil­lie Ren­nie, Scots Lib Dem leader, said: ‘We of­fered clear pri­or­i­ties to in­vest in peo­ple through ed­u­ca­tion and men­tal health. But the SNP in­sisted their dam­ag­ing plan for an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum had to stay on the ta­ble.’

James Kelly, Scot­tish Labour’s fi­nance spokesman, said: ‘The econ­omy has stag­nated, our NHS is in cri­sis, head­teach­ers are writ­ing to par­ents about un­prece­dented cuts, our rail sys­tem is on its knees and one in four chil­dren in Scot­land are liv­ing in poverty.

‘The time for tin­ker­ing at the edges is over.’

Church lead­ers, cam­paign­ers and aca­demics also signed a let­ter to Mr Mackay, call­ing for an in­come sup­ple­ment to raise money to tackle child poverty.

Mr Mackay said: ‘The Bud­get will pro­tect vi­tal pub­lic ser­vices and pri­ori­tise spend­ing on health, ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic in­vest­ment.’

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