Scotland opts not to change income tax

The Scottish Government has decided not to change the rates of incomes tax ahead of it gaining new powers to vary them.

 

The Scottish Government has decided not to change the rates of incomes tax ahead of it gaining new powers to vary them.

The 2012 Scotland Act, passed under the previous coalition Government, granted Holyrood limited powers to vary the rate.

Ahead of gaining the powers in April however, the Scottish Finance Secretary, John Swinney, has used a statement on the Government’s budget plans for 2016/17 today to opt to maintain income tax at the current rates.

The budget also includes:

  • A decision free Council Tax for the ninth year in a row.
  • An extra £500 million for the health service north of the border with £250 million earmarked for the integration of health and social care.
  • £35 million to ensure no-one in Scotland pays the Bedroom Tax.
  • Maintaining free university tuition, free prescriptions and free concessionary travel.
  • 600 hours of free high-quality early learning and childcare is to be offered to all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds, increasing to 1140 hours by the end of the next parliament

Commenting on his plans, Mr Swinney has said:

“The spending plans that I am announcing today will equip the country for the future and lay the foundations for the reforms that will define the next parliament – reforms that will reshape our health and social care services, deliver a step change in educational attainment, deliver a fairer system of local taxation and use new powers over tax and welfare in a way that supports our central purpose.

“This Budget is driven by two themes: supporting inclusive growth and protecting and reforming public services. We will deliver inclusive growth by focusing on investment in innovation, infrastructure, education and skills, and by maintaining a competitive business environment.

“And we will protect and reform public services by delivering on the Christie Commission approach of service integration at local level, prevention and improving outcomes for individuals.”

He continued:

“The current financial landscape presents us with a challenge and a choice. Scotland can meekly accept these UK Government cuts or we can rise to the challenge and chose a Scottish alternative to austerity. We choose to rise to the challenge. We choose the Scottish alternative. We choose to put reform and growth at the heart of this Budget.”

Throughout the statement members of the Scottish Labour team have tweeted their concerns over the budget. The party’s leader in Scotland, Kezia Dugdale has said:

“No sign of a living wage for care workers in today’s #ScotBudget – huge missed opportunity to help low paid workers.”

Scottish Labour’s official feed has tweeted:

“John Swinney says he is protecting the college budget. Yet under the SNP there are 140,000 fewer students going to college. #ScotBudget.”

Shadow Finance Secretary, Jackie Baillie declared to MSPs that “after nearly nine years in power and a majority in Parliament, Scotland deserves better than this.”

“This is a short-term budget, with the cuts hidden away. Swinney should have laid out plans across his whole budget for at least 3 years”, Ms Baillie said. “Austerity hidden is not austerity avoided. People deserve to know where the cuts and tax rises will come from.”

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