14 Feb 2016
Protect public services
We all want good quality public services. The question is who pays for them? At the moment, council budgets are 100% controlled by the Scottish Government. Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney decide how much councils can spend. So when I hear complaints about service reductions in education, care, roads or civic amenity sites then I have to ask two questions. Who is cutting the budget which causes this problem and secondly who can do something about it? In both cases the answer is the Scottish Government. On the second question, I know money is tight. But the Scottish Government has new powers over taxation. That's why Scottish Labour has proposed a 1p tax increase with protection for those earning less than £20,000. This would raise almost £500 million per year to protect vital public services like education and care. Why shouldn't a well paid person like me pay an extra £481 per year, and why shouldn't Nicola Sturgeon pay an extra £1447 from her six-figure salary? The reaction from the SNP has been nothing short of hysterical using Thatcherite language like "tax grabs". For some reason this so-called radical party is opposed to progressive taxation where the highest earners pay more to protect services. If we are not prepared to pay for vital public services on which we all rely, then we shouldn't complain when they are cut.