2nd. February 2016
Today, we set out a bold plan to avoid SNP cuts to local budgets and invest in the future.
Here is what we want to do:
In her most significant intervention to date as Scottish Labour Leader, Kezia Dugdale says the SNP Government should use the new powers available to Holyrood today to set an 11p Scottish rate of income tax in the budget for 2016/17 - 1p higher than that proposed by George Osborne and John Swinney.
The draft budget set out by the SNP Government for the next year proposes cuts worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the funding for local councils, which will have devastating consequences for education and local public services.
What does it mean for you?
Independent expert analysis confirms Scottish Labour’s proposal would raise almost half a billion pounds every year. This would raise the resources needed to avoid planned cuts to education and other vital local public services, and allow something to be given back to low income workers.
Under Scottish Labour’s plan to invest in the future, 810,000 workers in Scotland will not lose a single penny. Taxpayers earning less than £20,000 will receive a £100 annual boost to their income, through a payment scheme administered by local authorities.
Someone on a salary of around £30,000 a year would pay less than £4 a week extra under this plan. By contrast, someone on the same £144,687 wage as the First Minister would pay an extra £28 a week (£1,447 a year).
What have the experts said about it?
Experts - including the impartial Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) and David Eiser of the University of Stirling - and even the Finance Minister John Swinney have previously confirmed that increasing the Scottish rate of income tax to invest in public services is a progressive measure. In the words of John Swinney: “Clearly, people on higher incomes will pay comparatively more than people on lower incomes.”
What's the scale of education cuts being proposed by the SNP?
The cuts the SNP have decided to inflict will be felt in every community in Scotland. The hundreds of millions of pounds taken from local services are cuts to things that we all rely on. But the worst thing about the SNP’s choice is that they will make cuts to education.
On top of the £130 million of cuts announced to the Scottish Government’s centrally managed education budget, the hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts to local government will mean a new round of cuts to our children’s nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools.
In the past, as local government has been cut again and again, we have been promised that education is protected. The official figures show that isn’t true.
The Scottish Government’s auditors report that councils in Scotland have already cut education in real terms. They found that almost all councils have now cut education and that those savings had been made by reducing teacher numbers to a 10 year low.
The price of those cuts is that achievement is falling, the chances our children get are being limited and their horizons are being narrowed.
Education is already falling behind. Further cuts to schools will only make it harder to catch up. These cuts will disadvantage children, hold back business and harm our economy. Labour cannot support an SNP budget which asks our children and young people to bear the brunt of the cuts.
Here is what Kezia has said about our plan:
“Given the choice between using our powers or making cuts to our children’s future, we choose to use our powers.
“We will tear up this SNP budget that simply manages Tory cuts and instead use the power we have to set the Scottish rate of income tax one pence higher than the rate set by George Osborne. This will provide an extra half a billion pounds a year to invest in the future.
“We don’t do this because we want to use the powers for their own sake. We do it because there is no other alternative to cutting into our nation’s future.
“This choice we make today on the Scottish rate of income tax would provide a half a billion pounds more to invest in our children’s future. It enables us to stop cuts to schools and other vital public services, and to guarantee that spending on education will be protected in real terms in the next five years.”
“To leave no one in any doubt as to the fairness of our plans, we will make sure that low paid workers are the biggest winners. People earning less than £20,000 a year won’t lose a single penny, and low paid taxpayers will actually benefit from this plan.
“We would establish, with local authorities, a £100 annual payment to the boost the income of low paid taxpayers. This will account for just £50 million of the half a billion pounds this change will raise but will mean that we can boost the incomes of low paid taxpayers.”