Scottish Green MSPs will use today's Holyrood debate on the 2016-17 Budget to push the Scottish Government to be bolder in enabling local authorities to raise vital revenue to protect frontline services.

The Scottish Greens have been challenging the Government throughout the current Parliament to find progressive ways of raising revenue, and have put forward specific proposals for doing so:

-Taxing derelict and vacant land.
-Allowing local authorities to decide their own levels of Council Tax without financial penalty.
-Adjusting the Council Tax multiplier to reduce tax for lower band properties and increase it for undertaxed higher band properties.

These measures were contained in a Green amendment to the Budget Bill but not selected for debate by the Presiding Officer.

A briefing published today (see notes below) shows that the measures could be implemented by Parliament immediately and generate almost £400million for the coming financial year.

In remarks last night the First Minister signalled an intention to use the Council Tax multiplier as an alternative to a much-hoped for replacement. Greens have argued that this is a simple change which can be made quickly, but will continue to advocate for full replacement of Council Tax during the next session of Parliament.

Patrick Harvie, Finance and Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Glasgow, said:

"Scottish Greens have consistently made the case for raising tax fairly and locally. Renowned economists such as Stiglitz and Piketty have shown that wealth inequality is a greater source of social injustice than the gap in incomes, so in looking to raise revenue we should recognise that Holyrood has the ability to target wealth such as property rather than what people earn from their work.

"Parliament has already agreed to keep the Scottish Rate of Income Tax at 10p and Labour have not been able to explain how their proposal for a rebate would work, nor have they been able to explain how it would prevent tax avoidance. Therefore, the only credible options for raising revenue fairly and locally are those we have outlined. While we will argue in today’s debate for these measures, it is astonishing that the Presiding Officer chose not to select any of the proposed amendments to the Budget Bill, restricting the debate. 

"Greens will continue to make the case for this kind of constructive and carefully-considered action to protect public services."


The Green amendment not selected by the Presiding Officer would have added to the Government motion on the Budget Bill:
Insert at end, “and in so doing calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that vacant land becomes liable for non-domestic rates, to allow local authorities to set Council Tax rates without financial penalty, and to implement immediate progressive reform of the Council Tax multiplier.”

Green MSPs briefing on 2016-17 budget proposals

Nicola Sturgeon to overhaul council tax to charge wealthy more (Telegraph)