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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
SSP sets out 'service tax' plan
Council tax form
Voters are being urged to have their say on replacing the council tax
People are being urged to give their views over the next four months on the Scottish Socialist Party's alternative to the council tax.

The SSP wants to replace it with an income-based Service Tax, which the party says would see many low-income households saving up to 30 a week.

Party leader Tommy Sheridan launched a consultation document on Thursday.

But Labour said the proposals were "not credible" and that those on low incomes were protected by council benefits.

Mr Sheridan said recent research suggested 77% of people in Scotland were in favour of abolishing the charge.

He argued that his tax - based solely on income - would leave more than 70% of homes better off, with many low income households saving between 20 and 30 a week.

You don't hear quite so much about the teachers, university lecturers, GPs and consultants who will be paying more
Bristow Muldoon
Labour MSP

Anyone earning up to 30,000 would pay less than they are at the moment, Mr Sheridan calculated.

All those earning under 10,000 a year would be automatically exempt from the proposed tax.

"Hospital porters, cooks and nurses are all being hammered by the council tax," he told BBC Scotland.

'Majority should pay less'

"Pensioners and low paid workers are paying a very high proportion of their limited income.

"MSPs and MPs, people like ourselves, who are well paid, should be paying more in order that the vast majority of Scots should pay less."

He added: "The council tax penalises those on the lowest incomes across Scotland, particularly pensioners but also average and low paid workers of whom we have far too many.

"Those who are well paid, those who are very wealthy, pay a pittance - while those with very little are financially punished."

Labour response

But the plan was rejected by Labour MSP Bristow Muldoon, convener of the parliament's local government committee.

He said: "You don't hear quite so much about the teachers, university lecturers, GPs and consultants who will be paying more.

"These proposals will be very good news for the NHS in Newcastle and Manchester and very bad news for the NHS in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

"These proposals are not credible and will not have broad support once they are properly analysed.

"People on the very lowest incomes are protected by council benefits and the council tax itself could potentially be reformed."

Mr Muldoon said the Scottish Executive was planning a review of the council tax.

The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats both want the council tax replaced with an income-based alternative.

Alliance holding back axe on tax
06 Mar 04  |  Scotland
SNP unveils 'axe the tax' plan
05 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Scrap council tax, says Swinney
26 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Pensioners push for tax review
23 Feb 04  |  Scotland

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