Scottish Budget: A question of fairness '“ leader comment

As he unveiled his Budget yesterday, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay claimed that Scotland was now the 'fairest taxed part of the UK'.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.

But, as the Scottish Conservatives pointed out, it is also now the highest taxed part of Britain. Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said a nurse manager would pay around £1,350 more in income tax than their equivalent in England, while a principal teacher would be charged about £1,500 more.

Taxes will be slightly lower in Scotland for those earning less than £27,000 – although the maximum benefit is a saving of just over £20 a year – but higher for those earning above that figure.

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The Scottish Fiscal Commission also warned that the difference in tax rates between Scotland and the rest of the UK would “start to have an effect on tax residency decisions”.

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In an encouraging sign he intends to keep an eye on this potentially serious problem, Mackay acknowledged there was a risk that the diverging rates of tax might have adverse effects on the Scottish economy.

If people in middle management and more senior roles begin to move south, then the public and private sectors in Scotland could be plunged into a leadership crisis.

Many would also question his claim that Scotland’s tax burden was fairer than the UK’s.

Is it fair for police sergeants, experienced people in the NHS and education, and the like to pay hundreds of pounds more in tax than those in England? These people could hardly be classed as members of the super-rich. They are people who have been successful because of their hard work, and they are vital to Scotland’s future.