James Kelly: SNP has protected the pockets of millionaires

James Kelly: SNP has protected the pockets of millionaires

Scots earning £1 million are paying less than £2 a week more in income tax as a result of the SNP's changes, Labour claimed.

James Kelly accused the Scottish Government of having "protected the pockets of millionaires" after its analysis showed the amount of income tax someone with an annual salary of £1 million would pay had increased by just £100.

While the threshold for paying the 40p rate increased to £45,000 across the rest of the UK, the Scottish Government opted to freeze the level at which workers start paying the higher rate at £43,000.

Labour said that meant income tax on earnings of £1 million had gone from £436,100 in 2016-17 to £436,2000 in 2017-18, a difference of £1.92 a week.

Meanwhile the Scotland-wide council tax freeze, which only ended this year, has saved those in the most expensive Band H properties more than £3,000 on average, according to the party.

It also argued Scottish Government plans to cut the Air Departure Tax paid on flights will also disproportionately benefit wealthier families who fly more often.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats had urged the Government to use Holyrood's new income tax powers to raise the levy in this year's budget, to raise more cash for public services, with Labour calling for a 1p increase in the basic rate and the restoration of the 50p top rate for the highest earners on salaries of £150,000 a year or more.

Mr Kelly said: "The SNP has protected the pockets of millionaires while cutting services which millions rely on.

"The Scottish Parliament has huge new powers over taxation – but rather than ask the richest to pay their fair share the SNP has decided to slash services that our poorest rely on the most.

"After a ten-year council tax freeze, the SNP now plans a tax cut that will benefit those who can afford to fly frequently.

"Rather than protect Scotland from Tory austerity the SNP has simply passed it on to the poorest people in Scotland."

He added: "This is unsustainable. The SNP fantasy that we can have Scandinavian levels of public services with American levels of taxation is being exposed in communities across Scotland.

"The SNP should use the powers of the parliament to stop the cuts and invest in public services."

SNP ministers argued against income tax rises during this year's budget process, saying then that they would not pass the burden of Westminster austerity on to hard-pressed households.

However in her programme for government for the coming year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon indicated tax rises could be on the way, saying the time was now right for a discussion on how the powers could be used in a ''responsible and progressive'' way.

A spokesman for Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: "Under the SNP taxpayers in Scotland have the best deal in the UK, with household budgets protected, quality public services and access to services like free tuition and free personal care, all of which help make Scotland a hugely attractive place to live, to work and to invest in.

"The Labour Party need to learn that tax powers aren't a macho competition but are about how you fund public services, protect people on low incomes, increase revenues and support the economy.

"The vast majority of those who benefited from the council tax freeze, which has been kept in place by a number of Labour local authorities, were low and middle income households, with average households saving £1,500, at a time of recession.

"As set out in the Programme for Government, we will publish a discussion paper that not only sets out tax options including those from opposition parties but also considers the impacts of taxation, to seek a consensus ahead of the Scottish Budget."

Advertisement starts


Advertisement ends