SNP signals ‘better paid’ face higher rates of tax

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today deliver her clearest signal yet that “better paid” Scots face higher taxes than elsewhere in the UK as she fires the starting gun on the ­Holyrood election campaign with a pledge to “invest in public services”.

But those on average salaries who pay the basic rate will have no tax hikes for five years, the SNP leader will tell delegates at party conference in Glasgow.

We will not raise the basic rate of income tax in the next parliament”

NICOLA STURGEON

Ms Sturgeon was last night accused of being part of a “bidding war” to impose higher taxes on Scots and was urged to instead focus on economic growth.

Tory Chancellor George Osborne is expected to use next week’s Budget to increase the current £42,385 earning threshold before workers pay the higher 40p in the pound tax rate. It is expected to go up to £43,000, effectively a tax cut.

He is also expected to set out plans to “accelerate” progress on proposals to push up this same higher tax threshold by 2020 to those making more than £50,000.

The Chancellor is also considering cutting the higher rate for those making more than £150,000 from 45p to 40p.

As Holyrood’s prepares to take control over income tax rates and bands next year, Ms Sturgeon will today say that the basic rate will be frozen for the duration of the next Scottish Parliament until 2020.

She will add: “Given the circumstances we face right now, I also think it would be wrong – deeply wrong – to give big tax cuts to the better paid as George Osborne is planning to do.

“We will not do that – our choice will be to invest more in our public services instead.”

Ms Sturgeon will say the Scottish Government will set out its detailed plans for income tax after Mr Osborne sets out his own spending plans next week.

The SNP is riding high in the polls and Ms Sturgeon has been predicted to be set to win another majority at ­Holyrood in May’s election with Labour and the Tories ­apparently accepting they are fighting a battle for second place.

MSPs will take control over setting income tax rates and bands as the new powers agreed in the post-referendum Smith Commission powers come into force next year.

Ms Sturgeon will today set out the “key principles” on taxation as SNP delegates gather at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).

“We will never forget that every decision we take on tax has to be paid for by you, the hard-working people of this country,” she will say.

“We will not raise the basic rate of income tax in the next parliament. I don’t think there’s anything left-wing about a competition over who can tax ordinary people the most.

“Taxing the lowest paid doesn’t tackle austerity – it simply passes the burden of Tory austerity to the shoulders of those who can least afford it and that is not fair.”

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have both set out plans for a 1 pence income tax rise across the board.

scott.macnab@jpress.co.uk