Nicola Sturgeon has paved the way for income tax rises as she today puts forward plans to fight “UK austerity”.
The First Minister is launching a discussion paper on Thursday that will lay out the Scottish Government’s “alternative approaches” to protecting public coffers.
The SNP leader said she will set out four ways of using income tax that meet her government’s objectives.
Those tests include safeguarding lower earners, maintaining public services, making the system fairer and not damaging the economy.
It puts middle and higher earners in the cross hairs for tax hikes.
Ahead of announcing her proposals, Ms Sturgeon said: “Against the backdrop of continued UK austerity which will see Scotland lose £2.9bn from our budget over a 10 year period, rising costs as a result of inflation, an ageing population and with the prospect of a deep and damaging Brexit on the horizon, it is important that as a parliament and as a country we begin a debate about how we support our economy and fund public services for the future.
She added: “The paper I will publish today will include four tests that I believe provide a basis for establishing any future position on tax and four alternative approaches that demonstrate different ways in which those tests can be met.”
Murdo Fraser, for the Scottish Conservatives, said Scotland must not have higher taxes than the rest of the UK.
“As job creators and industry bodies have made clear, higher levels of taxation in Scotland will make it more difficult to grow the Scottish economy,” he added.
“This will in turn result in lower tax revenues to help pay for our schools and hospitals.
“Scotland must remain competitive.”
Scottish Labour’s James Kelly said the lack of extra revenue raised through raising taxes has meant has meant “soaring class sizes, overworked teachers, social care services stretched to breaking point and vulnerable people slipping through our social safety net”.
He added: “Failure to end these cuts fails our children, our elderly and our vulnerable. It would be completely unacceptable for the SNP to tinker round the edges of our tax system and not raise the revenue needed to stop the cuts.”