Monday, 15 September 2008

Tavish Lays Out Tax Cutting Challenge

At the weekend down at the Federal Party conference down in Bournemouth Tavis Scott challenged the Scottish Government as well as fellow opposition parties to really help people by cutting 2p of the level of income tax.

He said that with fuel costs up by 50% and the average food bill up £30 a month and inflation soaring we could not let this go on, adding.

"We can't turn our backs. We've got to find ways to help people out, because we
know things are going to get worse."

One minor hiccup in Scott's announcement was picked up in this morning's Times that he failed to correct the cost estimates, under Scotland's tax varying powers, from £400m to the actual figure of £800m out of Scotland's £30bn budget. Although this was less of a glaring error than when Charles Kennedy attempted to outline the proposals for Local Income Tax days after becoming a father during the 2005 General Election.

However, the Nats issued a coll response to the challenge saying:
"It's only a couple of years since the Liberal Democrats were calling for
an increase in income tax when the standard rate was higher. Now they are
calling for an income tax cut.

"The biggest items of Scottish Government expenditure are health and
education and the hard question for Tavish Scott is to answer is where the cuts
will be. The Scottish Government has already frozen the council tax and cut
business rates."

So I wouldn't expect there to be any more tightening of the belts in the Scottish finance bill that will come before the Parliament soon.

However, today at conference the whole tax cutting agenda that the party leadership is taking on board faces a challenge in an amendment to the Make it Happen (Visions and Values Paper) . No doubt it will lead to a lively debate as the party decides whether proper spending on public services or tax cuts really is of greatest importance and help to the public at this stage.

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