Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Tax cutting plan 'irresponsible'

1 coin

The Scottish Government has rejected an opposition demand to cut income tax, branding it "the height of irresponsibility".

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the Lib Dem call would take 800m from the budget, adding that the party had failed to say where cuts would fall.

The Liberal Democrats have put a 2p Scottish income tax cut at the heart of their budget proposals.

They said the SNP budget was not enough to weather the financial storm.

The Scottish Government's decision came as it prepared to publish its 33bn public spending plans for the year ahead, which need parliamentary approval.

The SNP has to remember that it is a minority government
Mike Rumbles
Scottish Liberal Democrats

Ministers said they were open to constructive discussion about the proposals, but said the Lib Dems had to "get real" on the proposal for MSPs to use Holyrood powers for varying the standard rate of income tax.

They pointed out that the earliest the tax powers could be implemented would be 2010-11.

An aide to Mr Swinney said: "As we address the UK economic downturn, it is the height of irresponsibility to demand an 800m cut to Scotland's budget, which would slash services, without a word of explanation as to where the cuts would fall.

"Rather than offering constructive ideas to address the present downturn, the Lib Dems are clearly bringing forward the wrong policy for Scotland at the wrong time."

Scottish ministers said they had taken a range of measures - such as slashing business rates and freezing council tax - to tackle the current economic downturn.

In the wake of a meeting between the Scottish Government and the Lib Dems, the party has refused to get round the budget negotiating table until the Scottish Government said it was willing to consider tax cuts.

"As it stands, the budget is an inadequate response to the economic storm facing Scotland," said Lib Dem chief whip Mike Rumbles.

"The SNP has to remember that it is a minority government and needs support from other parties."

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SEE ALSO
Clegg calls for 2p income tax cut
30 Oct 08 |  Scotland
Lib Dems demand cut in income tax
10 Oct 08 |  Scotland
Scott calls for cut in income tax
14 Sep 08 |  Scotland

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