Scottish Labour has called on the SNP government to give up the grievance and start governing, following the final House of Commons vote on the Scotland Bill last night.
The Bill means major new tax and welfare powers are heading to Holyrood – including the power to restore any money lost to working families through George Osborne’s planned cuts to tax credits. Now that both the Scottish and UK governments agree the new powers can be used for tax credits, Scottish Labour today said that technical discussions should begin now on achieving this, in advance of the Scottish budget.
Scottish Labour has set out a plan to restore the money lost through George Osborne’s tax credit cuts for working families in Scotland. This would be funded by making different choices on tax from the SNP and Tory Governments. Scottish Labour would not implement the SNP’s planned £250 million cut to Air Passenger Duty and would not implement the Tory Government’s planned increase in the threshold for those paying the higher rate of income tax.
In the days following Scottish Labour’s announcement the SNP Government repeatedly refused to acknowledge the new powers that would make restoring money lost through tax credits possible. However last week in the Scottish Parliament Nicola Sturgeon finally accepted the powers exist, but refused to set out any detailed plans or guarantee that working families will receive the same entitlement as they do now.
Scottish Labour’s Public Services and Wealth Creation Spokesperson Jackie Baillie said:
“With the delivery of the Smith Commission the onus is now on every political party in Scotland to set out what they would do with these major new powers heading our way. We are at the start of a new era of responsibility in Holyrood, where the people of Scotland will no longer tolerate those who refuse to say how they would use the powers the Scottish Parliament has to transform the lives of families here.
Now that the Scotland Bill has made its way through the Commons the time has come for the SNP Government to give up the grievance and start governing. The Scottish and UK Governments should begin technical discussions about using the new powers to restore any money lost through tax credits.
Politics is all about choices. How a government chooses to spend its budget determines its priorities. The SNP Government want to use the new powers on a £250 million plan to make airline tickets a bit cheaper. John Swinney has said he can’t yet find the money to help working families, but he can guarantee £250 million to cut the price of an airline ticket. Scottish Labour think that’s not the right priority, so we would use that funding instead to restore the money lost through tax credit cuts to working families. We will fight George Osborne’s planned cuts all the way, but if he does not see sense then Scottish Labour will act to protect working families.
The SNP have been all over the place on tax credits. First they told us the Scottish Parliament wouldn’t have the power to act and in any event it would be too expensive to help working families. Then they admitted that wasn’t true but wouldn’t tell us whether working families would be entitled to the same support as they are now. It’s an utter shambles.”