Kezia Dugdale calls on SNP to vote against increase in taxes

Labour will challenge the SNP to vote against increasing taxes when Nicola Sturgeon attempts to pass her first budget in charge of a minority government.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale greets newly re-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In her speech to the Labour conference in Liverpool today, Ms Dugdale will call on the First Minister to use new tax powers to improve public services.

Ms Dugdale, who came under sustained pressure yesterday over her opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, will accuse the SNP of “sitting back and doing nothing” in the face of cuts handed down by the UK government.

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She will attempt to seize back the agenda by announcing Labour will introduce amendments to the 2017-18 budget, calling for a 50p rate of tax for those earning more than £150,000, and a 1p rise in income tax across the board.

Labour estimates that the new tax rate for high earners will raise £80 million, while a 1p increase on other bands would bring in £400m to invest in public services.

Ms Dugdale will highlight cuts to local government funding of £1 billion over the current parliament, according to analysis by the Fraser of Allander Institute. She is expected to say: “I’m only asking Nicola Sturgeon to do what she’s said she wanted to do her entire political life: to make different choices to the Tories.”

Ms Dugdale will add: “If the SNP minority government do not accept these proposals, and try to force another austerity budget through Holyrood, we will vote against it. If they want support, they’ll need to look to the Tories for that. Labour will not help the SNP pass an austerity budget.”

The SNP government faces a return to political horse-trading in order to pass its budget after returning to minority government for the first time since 2011. Its vulnerability was exposed last week in a vote over plans to reform council tax, which saw the government fail to pass its own motion.

The SNP narrowly avoided the embarrassment of a Tory motion being agreed by MSPs because Ms Dugdale’s vote was not registered on the electronic voting system.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The First Minister has been clear that hard working families should not have to pay the price of UK government austerity. Where we have the powers to do so, we are making taxation fairer and more proportionate to the ability to pay, while also raising additional revenue.”