Sun 22 Oct, 2017

Greens are leading the change in so many ways, but on income tax it's our progressive proposals that have truly shifted the debate. Patrick Harvie MSP

Scottish Greens meeting at their Autumn conference in Edinburgh today (22 Oct) agreed to mandate their MSPs to push for progressive changes to income tax, protection of public services and a fair public sector pay settlement, when they engage with the minority SNP Government over the 2018-19 budget.

Members supported a motion which stated: “Refusal by the Scottish Government to make further use of the [income tax] powers available to it is unacceptable.”

The motion also called for the budget to include investment in low-carbon infrastructure such as energy efficient housing, locally owned renewable energy and sustainable transport.

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

“Greens are leading the change in so many ways, but on income tax it's our progressive proposals that have truly shifted the debate. With the powers Scotland has over rates and bands we can do so much more than simply tweak the basic rate, as some parties have suggested. We can instead cut tax for low earners, raise it for high earners, and altogether generate extra funds for public services.

“Our MSP group has already achieved a lot this year, on everything from young carers and child protection to fracking and publicly owned energy, and we're determined to keep pushing the minority SNP Government in the direction of a fairer Scotland and a clean economy.”

The Scottish Budget motion reads:

Conference notes the success of the Green MSPs in securing the biggest budget concession since devolution, with the addition of £160million of unringfenced funding for local council services in 2017/18, as well as the cancellation of the SNP's proposed increase to the Higher Rate income tax threshold, which would have resulted in an unjustified tax cut for all high earners.

Conference recognises however that these positive changes to the Scottish budget follow significant cuts to local government in previous years, which are still having an impact on councils in Scotland. We also recognise the context of continued restrictions on the ability of councils to make their own choices about local taxation, and a failure of the Scottish Government to replace Council Tax with a fair alternative.

Conference reasserts the need for progressive use of newly devolved tax powers, to raise the revenue needed to protect public services and investment, while reducing wealth and income inequality. Refusal by the Scottish Government to make further use of the powers available to it is unacceptable.

Conference also notes that the Scottish Government's infrastructure investment has failed to sufficiently prioritise low-carbon projects, which still make up a small proportion of capital spending. In advance of the publication of a draft budget for 2018/19, conference mandates the Green MSPs to continue to make the case for:
• progressive changes to income tax, reform of local taxation and sustainable use of other devolved taxes such as those levied on the aviation industry;
• protection of public services including at local level, where the Government must begin to reverse the cuts made in previous years;
• a fair public sector pay settlement, which ends the 1% pay cap and takes account of rising inflation;
• investment in low-carbon infrastructure such as energy efficient housing, locally owned renewable energy, sustainable transport, and local food systems, to ensure that low-carbon projects make up at least 70% of total capital spending.

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