Protecting Scotlandís Education : Policy Question and Answer



Given the choice between using our powers, or making cuts to our childrenís future, we choose to use our powers.

Scottish Labour would use the tax system in a fair way, raising the Scottish rate of income tax by 1p, to avoid making cuts to local schools and local communities.

We stand today as a Labour Party that will go into the election against austerity, a Labour party that is offering a positive alternative, a Labour party that supports ambition and aspiration. Vote Labour to break from Tory cuts, and stop the SNP passing those cuts onto our children.

Our bold plan to avoid SNP cuts to local budgets and invest in the future:

We are calling on the SNP Government 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.

Independent expert analysis confirms our proposal would raise almost half a billion pounds every year to avoid planned cuts to education and other vital local public services, and allow something to be given back to low income workers.

How would it work?

This is a progressive policy - some of us will pay a little more, the wealthiest will pay the most, but we will all gain from protecting our childrenís schools and vital public services.

One in four workers will pay no more, and one in five taxpayers will end up better off financially.

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).

Under our plan 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.

This would cost just £50 million of the £500 million this change will raise but means that we can boost the incomes of low paid workers.

The scale of the SNP cuts:

On top of the £130 million of cuts announced to the Scottish Governmentís centrally managed education budget, the hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts to local government will mean a new round of cuts to our childrenís 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 isnít true.

The Scottish Governmentís 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 the gap between the richest and the rest remains, and 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.

Policy Q&A

Why is the Labour Party raising my tax?

Some people will pay a little more so that we all gain a lot.

We will raise all rates of income tax by a penny, but will also introduce a payment of £100 to low paid taxpayers, earning under £20,000 a year. One in four workers will pay no more today and one in five taxpayers will gain. So someone on the minimum wage will be £81 better off under this plan, but if youíre paid £144,687, like the First Minister, you would pay almost £1450 more a year.

Weíre making this choice because we would rather use the powers our Parliament has than impose Tory cuts on our schools and vital public services. Given the choice between using the powers we have or cutting into Scotlandís future, we choose to use the powers.

Why should I pay more than someone in England?

This is about making different choices. We donít agree with Tory austerity that is being imposed, and in Scotland we can make the choice to do things differently. Given the choice between using the powers we have or cutting into Scotlandís future, we choose to use the powers.

Comparatively, people in Scotland will still pay less in tax than others across the UK. Scots pay an average of £217 per head less than someone in the rest of the UK.

Why canít you just tax the most well off people?

Under our plans, people on the highest incomes will pay more and people on the lowest incomes will gain. If youíre on a high salary, such as the First Minister on £144,687, you would pay almost £1450 a year more. If youíre on the minimum wage you would be £81 better off under this plan.

How much does it raise?

Our plan raises around half a billion pounds each year every year from the start of the plan. This would allow us to invest in education and to protect our vital public services.

Why donít we just unfreeze the council tax?

There is no prospect of reversing the cuts to education and local services using the council tax as it makes up such a small proportion of local revenue. Council tax now accounts for just £2billion of Scottish councilís combined budgets of over £16billion.

To reverse the provisional cuts announced by the SNP to Dundeeís budget, for example, would take a council tax increase of 35%, to fill the gap in Glasgow it would have to be 36%, Edinburgh 17%, North Lanarkshire 33%.

And of course in any event, the council tax will be replaced with a more sustainable source of funding local services, after the cross party commission on local taxation has completed its work and as the parties set out their alternatives.

What will you spend this money on?

We will set out the full details of our spending plans ahead of the election. However, half a billion pounds raised is enough to ensure that the cuts to education and vital services can be avoided. And of course weíd give the additional payment to taxpayers on lower incomes.