We've outlined a range of options for ministers to make the tax system fairer & protect council services

Patrick Harvie MSP, Finance spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (22 Jan) said that his party has given Scottish Ministers a range of options to use fair taxation to protect local council services, as the minority SNP government seeks support for its 2017/18 budget.

The Budget Bill is expected to be published this coming week, with the first vote in Parliament the week after.

In their Holyrood 2016 manifesto, the Scottish Greens proposed using new powers over rates and thresholds of income tax to create a fairer system, under which most people would pay less and everyone with a lower than average income would receive a tax cut, while high earners would contribute more. This system would generate additional funds for public services.

Green MSPs have made the case for an “anti-poverty budget”, and have placed a high priority on action to protect services provided by local councils, which are in line for the deepest cuts in the Draft Budget. Discussions with Ministers have also covered support for young carers, funding of GP services, the wages of social care and nursery staff, and investment in low-carbon infrastructure.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

"Green MSPs were elected on a pledge to make Holyrood bolder to create a better Scotland. While we and the SNP had very different proposals on income tax, the reality is we have a parliament of minorities, so compromise is going to be needed. However, it takes two to reach a compromise, and the SNP’s draft budgetshowed no effort to work with others.

"In discussions with ministers, we have outlined a range of options for them to make the tax system fairer, to reduce inequality in our society and to generate additional funds for public services. They have total freedom over rates and thresholds, and there is a clear need for them to use this flexibility.

"The most generous interpretation of what the draft budget proposes for local councils’ core budgets is a cut of £166 million. Given the importance of the services provided by councils, it would be bizarre of ministers not to take the opportunity to adjust the income tax system to mitigate this cut.

“Other parties seem determined to vote down the budget without even trying to make it better. We don’t share that destructive attitude, but if the Government wants to compromise there will need to be significant movement when the Budget Bill is published this week."