THERE has been a last-ditch attempt to have the SNP conference debate the use of the Scottish Government’s tax powers to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
The SNP Trade Union Group (SNPTUG), which represents around 14,000 party members, has submitted a “topical motion” to be debated at conference – after their attempts to have a standard motion were rebuffed.
The group says that the “immediate, practical moves” called for in their topical resolution are necessary, warning that members would “not look kindly” on such proposals being rejected for consideration a second time.
SNPTUG convener Bill Ramsay said: “We need see a decisively different economic approach in Scotland to the one adopted by the Truss government – whose disastrous mini-budget has handed money to the rich, crashed the pound and gilt markets, and paved the way for yet more austerity and suffering.
“Economically, Scotland is a very different place from where it was a few months ago. With thousands of Scottish families on a financial precipice and working people taking industrial action to help them and their families survive, we need to see concrete action from the Scottish Government.
“That is what our topical motion is about. It means getting the wealthiest to pay more and giving local authorities the flexibility they need to meet the huge challenges they face in maintaining services.
“Our conference agenda is paved in the good intentions for a post-independence Scotland. That needs to be matched with action now and in the coming months, alongside significantly strengthened cooperation with trade unions and progressive policymakers.
“An earlier version of this motion was submitted for consideration for the conference agenda and rejected earlier in the summer. Given the challenges and hardships the Scottish public now face, they will not look kindly on the exclusion of these proposals for a second time.”
The resolution, which could be debated during slots available on Sunday or Monday, notes that the “hugely damaging impacts of Brexit, inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, the UK Chancellor’s disastrous ‘fiscal event’, and the severe and deepening cash squeeze from Westminster are also shared by local authorities”.
It calls on the Scottish Government to explore “greater use of the limited tax powers available under devolution to protect public investment and expenditure in the face of UK-driven injustice”.
It suggests steps including raising taxes on the highest earners, a second-home levy, more tax powers for local authorities, and for council tax to be replaced.
The SNPTUG will host a fringe event on Monday at the party’s conference alongside STUC general secretary Roz Foyer, Glasgow MP Chris Stephens, and other union leaders.
The SNPTUG’s topical motion in full:
A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO TAXATION IN SCOTLAND
Conference recognises that the Scottish Government faces exceptional challenges as it negotiates its spending review. The hugely damaging impacts of Brexit, inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, the UK Chancellor’s disastrous ‘fiscal event’ and the severe and deepening cash squeeze from Westminster are also shared by local authorities.
Conference recognises that many small progressive European nations generate substantially more revenue through taxation, both nationally and locally, and enjoy far lower levels of inequality of income and wealth. Scotland has an opportunity to model itself on these European nations to improve life for all. Working with local communities and trades unions can also help build deeper and wider support for gaining the full economic powers of independence needed to achieve this.
In charting a firm course away from Westminster austerity, conference wishes to see greater use of the limited tax powers available under devolution to protect public investment and expenditure in the face of UK-driven injustice, and to further our aims of a more just and equal society. Conference therefore calls for immediate, practical moves to:
- Increase the tax contribution of higher earners across Scotland.
- Grant local authorities the power and discretion to introduce taxes which appropriately meet local needs and protect local services.
- Speed up the reform of local authority finance, including replacing the council tax with a new residential property tax related to actual value.
- Enable local authorities to charge premium rates of property tax on second homes, unoccupied properties, and property development land banks.