The Scottish Government is under growing pressure to water down its Budget proposals or face the prospect of it being rejected at Holyrood after Labour called for the opposition to “unite” against the spending plans.
Proposals to axe £327 million from direct council budgets have angered left-wing opponents, while the Tories have warned that they will not support SNP plans to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK.
If the government fails to secure a majority for its Budget, the first to include new income tax powers, it could result in an election.
Finance minister Derek Mackay will see his plans come under the microscope in a Holyrood debate this week. But he is running out of options to find support after the pro-independence Greens warned at the weekend they will not back the current proposals, while Liberal Democrats have also called on ministers to use the new tax powers to fight austerity.
Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is now calling on the opposition to send out a message that the SNP can no longer “bulldoze” through unpopular plans at Holyrood.
She said: “Labour will oppose the SNP’s £327 million cut to public services in Scotland. We want to use the new powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest in our public services instead.
“The SNP has lost its majority in parliament; it can’t simply bulldoze its plans through Holyrood anymore. If the government wants to pass a budget, it needs to work with the other parties.
“Labour’s offer is simple – work with us to use the new powers and stop the cuts.
“The SNP cannot continue to cut local education budgets without our long term economy suffering. Nationalists cannot continue to cut the budgets of local authorities who deliver social care without piling pressure on our health service. SNP ministers cannot protect the poorest if they refuse to ask the richest to pay a little more.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said at the weekend that the budget proposals will deliver additional funding for the NHS and education in Scotland, as well as protecting low income households from tax hikes and support more and better jobs.
She added; “We are in active discussions with other political parties about the Scottish Budget.
“We are considering the detail of the propositions that we have received to date and will continue to take forward constructive discussions on our budget plans.”