Modest draft budget when bold measures are needed

Scottish Greens say the Scottish Government's draft budget for 2017-18 published today is modest in its ambitions when bold measures are needed to tackle poverty and protect public services.

Scottish Ministers are sticking with Income Tax proposals that would give high earners an extra £178 a year. Scottish Greens have proposed creating new rates and bands so that instead lower earners would get a tax cut and that overall additional funds would be raised for public services.

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

"Greens have been clear that reforming Income Tax to tackle poverty and protect public services should be the priority in this budget. While it's welcome to hear the Finance Secretary say he is listening to Parliament - recognising his party no longer has a majority - at first glance this budget is a missed opportunity when what's needed are bold measures.

"Local services such as social care and education are under huge pressure yet this draft budget shows a £71million cut in direct funding to our councils. This will mean job losses and either a reduction of local services or increased charges. It's also not clear what sanction councils face if they try to raise Council Tax by more than the three per cent limit Scottish Ministers have set. 

"There doesn't appear to be any increase in support for social security, when we now have the ability to top up reserved benefits and create new ones to tackle poverty. 

"Given the importance of energy efficient housing in tackling poverty, the very modest increase in funding proposed suggests the Scottish Government still don't take this seriously enough. It's also a concern that public sector workers will continue to see their pay cut in real terms, especially as MSPs enjoy a rise of almost 2 per cent.

"It's clear that there is much to be worked on in this budget if it is to be passed, and Green MSPs will scrutinise the details carefully over the coming days and weeks. We will encourage the Scottish Government to raise its ambition ahead of next month's vote to set Income Tax rates and February's vote on the budget itself."