BUDGET: HARVIE PRESSES SWINNEY ON LOCAL FUNDING
Patrick Harvie MSP, Finance and Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (3 Feb) pressed Finance Secretary John Swinney to rethink his proposed 2016-17 budget to give local authorities greater control over their revenue to protect frontline services.
The Green MSPs tonight voted to oppose the Budget Bill and the Labour-led amendment that calls for the Scottish Rate of Income Tax to be increased to 11p in April.
Patrick Harvie, Finance and Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Glasgow, said:
"In light of our call for Ministers to ensure local government has adequate funding to pay care workers a Living Wage, the commitment outlined today by the Government is welcome. However, the wider context is that this is a budget lacking in local democracy, and goes in the wrong direction on fuel poverty and sustainable transport.
"Labour are right to say that public services can only be protected if we raise the revenue that's needed. This is a case we've been making for several years now, but Labour's proposal on Income Tax would place a greater burden on income when it is the huge wealth inequality in our society we should be tackling. Their proposal would also increase local reliance on central government funding when we should be devolving power within Scotland.
"In years to come, increased powers over rates and bands of Income Tax will give Holyrood real flexibility to target the wealthiest in our society, while today we must focus on giving local authorities the ability to raise funds including from vacant land and under-taxed luxury properties. The Finance Secretary should not penalise councils who exercise democratic decisions.
"Scottish Greens have shown we can raise hundreds of millions of pounds in extra revenue from derelict land, and we've also made the case for ending the Council Tax freeze and ensuring the owners of luxury properties pay more. These tax policies would protect services, they'd be progressive, but they'd also empower local communities and address wealth inequality.
"On housing, Scottish Greens believe Scotland can provide good homes for all but we need to see ministers match their commitment to energy efficient housing with a funding increase rather than a cut, and a specific budget line to demonstrate it really is a National Infrastructure Priority. A clear timescale is needed for bringing all residential buildings up to modern standards, so we can end the scandal of Scotland's cold and expensive-to-heat homes."
BUDGET: HARVIE PRESSES SWINNEY ON COUNCIL FUNDS AND CARERS (31 Jan)
LAND REFORM: MINISTER AGREES TO EXPLORE GREEN CASE FOR VACANT LAND ASSESSMENT (3 Feb)