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STUC: Failing to raise money through tax reform is letting down workers

Scottish ministers will continue to let down ordinary workers if they ignore proposed tax reforms in an upcoming budget statement, a trade union boss has warned.

Research from the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said an additional £1.3 billion can be raised if measures like reducing the threshold for the highest tax rate was introduced.

It would see it reduced from £43,663 to £40,000, with other increases to certain council tax bands.

Deputy First Minister, and interim Finance Secretary, John Swinney will set out the budget on December 15.

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Hundreds of workers from a raft of trade unions, including the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) and NASUWT who are currently on their second day of strike action, rallied outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of the budget.

Roz Foyer, STUC general secretary, said only a lack of ambition and political will would see ministers opt not to introduce the measures, which she said will help fund local services and provide fair pay deals to workers.

Speaking during the rally, she told the PA news agency that the Scottish Government was fully aware of what is expected of it.

She said: “The reason workers are having to take strike action is because they are scared. They can’t pay their bills and their lives are not sustainable at the moment.

“The politicians have really let us down here in our hour of need. We need them to be on our side.”

She added: “There is absolutely no reason why they can’t take these political decisions and undertake what we’re asking for.

“Everything we’re asking for is affordable if they take the actions that we’ve proposed to them.

“At the end of they day, we know it’s not through lack of ability. If they don’t introduce a budget that redistributes wealth in our economy then it will be through lack of ambition and political will, nothing else.”

The research, carried out by Landman Economic, also suggests about £3.3 billion could be raised in the medium term with the introduction of measures like wealth taxes and council tax replacement by April 2026.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Supporting fair public sector pay settlements continues to be a priority for Scottish Ministers in the face of the cost of living crisis, with more than £700 million extra re-allocated to enhance pay this year.

“The Scottish Government has already delivered the fairest and most progressive tax system in the UK while raising extra revenue to invest in public services and Scotland’s economy.

“Proposals on tax policy for 2023-24 will be published as part of the Scottish Budget on December 15.”