Use devolved tax & social security powers to reduce inequality, protect services

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today (24 Nov) pressed the First Minister to commit to anti-poverty measures in the forthcoming draft Scottish budget, in response to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

At First Minister's Questions, Mr Harvie pointed out that most of the income tax cuts still to come will go to the richest half of households, and that changes to Universal Credit restore only a fraction of what’s already been taken away from poorer households.

Patrick urged the First Minister to stop talking about whether to “pass on” UK tax policies, and instead to take a distinct Scottish approach, by using devolved tax and social security powers to reduce inequality and protect public services.

Speaking after FMQs, Patrick said:

"The First Minister stated again that she wouldn’t 'pass on' a tax cut to the richest people in society. That simply won’t be enough; Scotland must from now on set its own tax policy instead of debating whether or not to copy the UK Government.

"The real test is what her government does with income tax rates and thresholds. Scotland has an opportunity to take a different approach to Westminster and raise revenue from the wealthiest, including people on high incomes like ministers and MSPs, while making those on low incomes better off.

"We can also make use of new powers to top up benefits, such as child benefit, lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty. And we must see government support only available to businesses which pay the real Living Wage to all workers.

"These policies would reduce inequality, leave fewer people struggling to make ends meet, and protect investment in public services. Greens look forward to engaging further with Scottish Ministers on the draft budget in the weeks ahead, but we’ll only be able to support it if it’s a bold and creative anti-poverty budget."