SNP rejects "bullying" claims over axed tax report

Derek Mackay rejects bullying claims
Derek Mackay rejects bullying claims
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The Scottish Government has rejected claims of "bullying" after a public spending watchdog pulled a report claiming half a million Scots will pay more tax under the SNP.

The National Audit Office (NAO) says it withdrew the report, due to be published today, into income tax in Scotland after it was contacted by Scottish Government officials who questioned the claims.

The watchdog admitted had held back on publication because the figures were "sensitive", although ministers in Scotland say they did not call for the report to be withheld.

The SNP has previously claimed says about 370,000 working Scots will pay more then their counterparts south of the border after Holyrood decided against extending the salary threshold to £45,000 for paying the higher 40 pence tax rate. It has instead been pegged at £43,000 in Scotland, an effective tax rise. The NAO reported had claimed 507,000 Scots were paying more.

Tory Finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “Once again we see this SNP government trying to bully anyone who they disagree with.

“It is clear that they have pressurised the National Audit Office into this climb-down, simply because the SNP didn’t like what they were hearing."

But a spokesman for finance secretary Derek Mackay branded the bullying claims "nonsense" and said officials had only sought to clarify the statistics.

He added: “Murdo Fraser’s claims are complete and utter nonsense, and the Tories should apologise for impugning the integrity of hard-working, impartial civil servants.”

A spokesman for the National Audit Office said: "We are holding off on the publication of the report because there's a question mark over one of the numbers which is the 500,000 figure.

"We've got one number and the Scottish Government's got another number and obviously because its a difference and because its quite a sensitive sort of number, we're just checking double-checking and re-doublechecking that all the "i"s are dotted and all the "t"s are crossed."

"It will definitely be published again. I'm not sure on a timeline - it's one of two figures. We will re-issue it."