Comment: Tax plans lack credibility

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Recently MSPs voted for the first time to set the Scottish Rate of Income Tax.

Despite calls from the Labour party to increase the amount of tax paid by Scottish taxpayers, the rate of income tax in Scotland will not go up.

In the run up to the vote Labour called for the rate of income tax to be increased for every worker across Scotland.

This is a policy that would have resulted in a tax hike for 2.2 million basic rate taxpayers across the country – including almost half a million pensioners.

Like many local residents I am astonished that Labour MSPs believe the best way to protect people in Eastwood from Westminster austerity is to increase the tax burden on hard-pressed, hard-working families — effectively making them pay twice for UK Government cuts.

Far from being progressive, Labour’s unfair and unworkable plans would penalise low and middle-income earners the hardest.

Under Labour’s proposals, a teacher would see their tax bill rise by approximately £188 and a nurse by a slightly lower amount of £140.

It’s no surprise then that less than one-third of the electorate are in favour of Labour’s tax hike, with the lowest level of support coming from voters who livie in some of the most deprived communities.

In contrast to Labour’s plans, the SNP’s budget will ensure that fifty-nine thousand low paid workers earning under £22,000 will receive an additional pay rise in 2016/17.

But if Labour had their way, the entirety of the wage increase for these workers would effectively be wiped out by income tax increases.

The Scottish Government has made clear that they will not hammer the low-paid with tax rises and I will oppose Labour’s plans to hit already hard pressed families across Eastwood with tax rises that too many local residents can ill afford the burden of.

The SNP wants to use Scotland’s budget to help people on low incomes by rolling out a living wage across the social care sector, freezing the council tax and supporting families surviving on low and modest incomes.

Independent analysis of Labour’s spending plans by the parliament’s information centre show total spending commitments of almost £5 billion.

Yet Labour’s plan to increase income tax would only raise around £400 million per year by shifting the burden of Tory cuts onto low earners.

If Labour wants to be taken seriously as a political party it must explain how it plans to fund its £5 billion of spending commitments — will they take the axe to other parts of Scotland’s budget, or will they burden working families with further tax increases?

While the Labour party spends time making promises they know they have no intention of delivering, the SNP in government is getting on with the job of delivering for Scotland — investing in 607 new schools, supporting local businesses by maintaining the small business bonus scheme, investing to tackle the attainment gap and encouraging a record number of 18 year olds from deprived backgrounds to apply for university.

Stewart Maxwell MSP, 4 Robertson Street, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire G78 1QW

stewart.maxwell.msp@scottish.parliament.uk