Wed 25 Jan, 2017

We have been engaging constructively with Scottish Ministers on the draft budget, unlike Labour and the Tories who have set their face against it, refusing to offer any positive proposals. Patrick Harvie MSP

Ahead of today's Holyrood debate on the draft Scottish budget, Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP urged Scottish Ministers to live up to their promise to protect public services and tackle inequality.

Mr Harvie also criticised the Conservatives and Labour for failing to put forward constructive proposals for a better budget, and warned that the Libdems pose a threat to the incomes of low and middle earners.

Patrick said:

"In her Programme for Government speech following last year's Holyrood election, the First Minister promised that protecting public services and tackling inequality would be government priorities. These are priorities Green MSPs share.

"We have been engaging constructively with Scottish Ministers on the draft budget, unlike Labour and the Tories who have set their face against it, refusing to offer any positive proposals.

"The Libdems have set out a shopping list of worthy aims but it is fatally flawed in that they propose an across-the-board income tax increase which would unfairly take money from the pockets of people on low and middle incomes. These are the very same people who would be hardest hit by cuts to public services. By contrast, Green MSPs have outlined a range of options for Scottish Ministers to use powers over income tax rates and thresholds to raise funds fairly to protect local services.

"I've no doubt many SNP backbenchers and supporters want to see action to prove their progressive credentials. The window of opportunity is starting to close. The ball is firmly in the court of Scottish Ministers. Tomorrow's publication of the Budget Bill is their big chance to signal their intentions."

(Ends)

"I hope I have given an indication today of how the Government I lead will carry itself - in a way that is open, listening, accessible and decentralising. And one with the strongest focus on growing our economy, protecting public services, tackling inequality and empowering our communities." FM's Programme for Government speech:
http://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/first-minister-programme-for...

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