Nicola Sturgeon criticises ‘enraged’ Tories over tax rises

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Nicola Sturgeon has described the Conservative reaction to the SNP’s plan to raise taxes for the wealthiest Scots as “staggering” as the parties continue to digest yesterday’s budget.

The First Minister took to social media to defend finance secretary Derek Mackay’s announcement that a new five band system of income tax would be introduced from spring 2018, which will mean those on a salary of £33,000 will pay more.

Nicola Sturgeon and finance secretary Derek Mackay at the Scottish Parliament following yesterday's draft budget announcement. Picture: PA

Nicola Sturgeon and finance secretary Derek Mackay at the Scottish Parliament following yesterday's draft budget announcement. Picture: PA

Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser dubbed the rise a “Nat tax” and claimed it broke a direct manifesto pledge to protect basic rate tax payers.

“In May 2016, 65 per cent of voters placed a cross in the box for parties opposed to further tax hikes, but their voices have been ignored by a Government that prefers to take direction from the high tax, low growth Green Party,” he wrote in The Scotsman.

But Ms Sturgeon hit out at the Tories, claiming their party had overseen cuts at Westminster which had hampered the most vulnerable in society.

In a tweet, she said: “It is staggering how enraged Scot Tories are at those on higher incomes being asked to pay a little bit more to protect public services (while the 70% on low and middle incomes get small tax cut) - but don’t bat an eyelid when their own party cuts the incomes of disabled people.”

READ MORE: Scottish Budget 2017: How SNP tax reform affects you

Meanwhile, Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said today his party’s goal in budget negotiations was to ensure “local services should not suffer a real terms cut”. He added that reports the Greens were demanding an extra £150m for councils as “misleading”.

He said: “We’ll examine the budget in detail and discuss with local government colleagues, then negotiate in good faith.”

Green MSP Andy Wightman said in an interview with BBC Scotland that councils had for years been treated as “second cousins” in Scotland’s political system.

He added: “We want a real terms increase (in council budgets) and that would involve somewhere in the region of £150m as I calculate it this morning”.

It is likely the SNP, who lack an overall majority, will need to rely on Green votes to pass their draft budget bill.