Use powers to build an anti-poverty budget

Ahead of this afternoon's taxation debate at Holyrood and tomorrow’s draft Scottish budget for 2017-18, Patrick Harvie MSP, Finance spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, urged Scottish Ministers to use powers over income tax to tackle poverty and protect local services such as education and social care.

In the Holyrood election earlier this year, the Scottish Greens proposed creating new rates and thresholds for income tax so that most people would keep more of what they earn, while people on higher than average salaries would contribute a fairer share. The Greens' reforms would generate an additional £331m for public services.

The Green MSPs have already highlighted to Scottish Ministers areas for action in the budget, including:

-Fair funding for local authorities, including greater investment in schools to give teachers more time to teach and to reverse cuts to Additional Support Needs
-Greater investment in GPs and preventative health to ease the pressures on the NHS
-National roll-out of the Healthier Wealthier Children scheme, in which health workers help families at risk of poverty access financial support
-A top-up of Child Benefit
-A new benefit for Young Carers
-Funding for energy efficient housing given its national infrastructure priority status
-Additional revenue from a vacant land tax to support the building of more affordable housing
-Uprating social care workers' Living Wage to the new rate
-Capital investment in low-carbon infrastructure such as buses, walking and cycling, and community energy

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

"These are uncertain times and the UK Government is cutting the incomes of many people who are struggling to get by, while giving a tax break to the wealthy. The Scottish Parliament now has the power to reverse that injustice, and after years of only being able to blame the UK, we must now take action. 

"The SNP must remember that they are a minority government once again, and that they must work together with others to pass their budget. If they’re willing to use that opportunity to tackle poverty and protect public services, we’ll respond constructively. 

"Like all high earners, every single MSP will get a tax cut from the UK Government this year. It would be a disgrace if we don’t take the chance to reverse that in Scotland and use the resources instead to tackle child poverty and support teachers, GPs and young carers. We can provide this investment by using Holyrood's powers in a progressive way, leaving everyone with a below average salary better off. 

"This is a test for Scottish Ministers. If their budget is timid it will go nowhere; if it's bold it will signal that they want to work constructively to make a real difference to people’s lives."