SNP '˜don't understand' sacrifices made by armed forces, says Tory MP

A Tory MP has claimed the Scottish Government 'don't seem to understand' the sacrifices made by UK armed forces in an on-going row over income tax.

Angus MP Kirstene Hair raised the issue of differing levels of taxation affecting the armed services
Angus MP Kirstene Hair raised the issue of differing levels of taxation affecting the armed services

Kirstene Hair, who represents Angus, made the comment while asking for an update on a UK Government review on how best to assist armed forces personnel based in Scotland who will pay higher taxes than their colleagues stationed elsewhere in the UK.

Launching the review in March, defence secretary Gavin Williamson said that around 8,000 members of the armed forces could be affected by the change after Holyrood brought in new income tax bands.

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The Scottish Government has insisted that under its plans workers earning up to £33,000 will now pay less in tax due to an increase in the personal allowance.

Speaking in the Commons today, Ms Hare said: “As my right honourable friend would agree, we must adequately fund our armed forces to support those who selflessly put their lives on the line for our country, a concept the Scottish Government don’t seem to understand. Can my right honourable friend update the House on the measures the UK Government is taking to mitigate the tax hikes on those brave service personnel?”

Mr Williamson replied: “It is truly shocking to think the SNP decided to put this extra taxation burden on our service personnel, especially when we asked them not to do so. That is why we are proceeding with a review very rapidly and we hope to report to this house in the not too distant future.”

SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said in a tweet: “A bizarre statement - not to mention an outright lie - from Kirstene Hare that the SNP has no respect for those who have served in the armed forces. Particularly tin-eared given we just elected a former Royal Marines Commando - Keith Brown - as our Depute Leader.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said at the time of Mr Williamson’s announcement that Keith Brown had written to the defence secretary in February with an offer to consider constructive proposals by the UK Government to address the differential taxation of military personnel.

“He was clear that any proposals must respect the Scottish Government’s income tax policy, and in particular should not disadvantage those earning under £26,000 who will pay less under our income tax proposals than they would under tax rates applicable in the rest of the UK,” they added.