Nicola Sturgeon was challenged in person by a senior business leader last night over the “incalculable” impact of tax hikes on the economy.
The First Minister is set to increase income tax for Scottish workers in next week’s Budget in an attempt to protect public services.
It will mean workers will pay more than their English counterparts.
Ms Sturgeon was in the audience as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce president Tim Allan spoke out against the plans.
“A high-tax Scotland would be easy to achieve but the damage may take years to repair.
“Unless tax revenues were ring-fenced to drive growth and job creation, the cost for a small nation in terms of lost investment is incalculable,” he said.
At the chamber’s annual business address, Ms Sturgeon tried to appease businesses by saying that a fairer society – delivered through measures such as a more progressive income tax system – helps firms’ bottom lines too.
She said: “The needs of business are too often seen as separate from, or competing with, the goal of building a fairer society – the reality is that the two can be mutually
supportive, and that is something our budget will seek to reinforce.”