Labour: UK, Scotland must ‘get grip’ of tax reform

Labour MP Margaret Curran. Picture: John Devlin
Labour MP Margaret Curran. Picture: John Devlin
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LABOUR have demanded that the UK and Scottish governments “get a grip” on devolving income tax to Holyrood in time for 2015 when the new powers are supposed to come into force.

Concerns over the key measure of the 2012 Scotland Act, which will see 10p out of the 20p basic rate decided by the Scottish Government Finance Secretary, have come after a freedom of information requestion revealed potential obstacles for the powers to be delivered on time.

The Treasury papers identified the Scottish Government as one of the main problems, with an amber warning next to it.

Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran, who raised the issue in Scottish questions in the Commons, said: “Every taxpayer in Scotland will be affected by these changes. It means new tax codes for every Scottish taxpayer, rates set for the first time by the Scottish Parliament and a new system that employers need to get to grips with.

“People across the country and employers need to have confidence that both the UK and Scottish Governments are prepared for these changes. Both our Governments need to get a grip of these new powers.”

But Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael denied that there was any delay.

In a briefing with journalists, he said: “The work between the Treasury and Scottish Government has been going on for some time but I have heard no complaints from either side.”

He pointed out that the reforms mean the Scottish Government has to create its own Treasury.

He also welcomed Ms Curran’s comments in The Scotsman that Labour is “open minded” about going further and supporting the idea of devolving all of income tax, a move described by Gordon Brown as a “Tory trap”.

It came as Whitehall sources revealed that the Cabinet Committee on constitutional change has dropped English votes for English laws from its agenda to only concentrate on more powers for Scotland “so there is no obstacle to delivering the vow” made by the main party leaders in the last days of the referendum.

English votes will be the subject of separate bilateral discussions between the Tories and Lib Dems.