Scottish budget clears first hurdle

Scottish Parliament

The draft Scottish budget moved a step closer to approval by the Scottish Parliament yesterday (31 January), when the Stage 1 vote was passed by 67 votes to 58. One MSP abstained.

The SNP struck a deal with the Scottish Green Party, which will back the government during a further two debates before the budget receives Royal Assent.

Some of the key points from the debate were:

  • Business rates poundage – the Scottish Government will limit the increase in business rates poundage to 2.1%
  • Town centres – there will be a £50m capital fund to enable town centres to thrive and be sustainable.
  • Single use carrier bags – Scottish Government has agreed with the Greens to increase the minimum levy to at least 10p at the earliest opportunity.
  • Disposable drinks cups – Scottish Government have agreed in principle to the introduction of charging for disposable drinks cups and will act to take this forward
  • Local authorities – Scottish Government will consider whether some of the revenue from both charges (single use carrier bags & disposable drinks cups) can be put under the control of local authorities
  • Income tax – The Finance Secretary said the proposed budget does not increase any of the rates of income tax and that the starter and basic rates of income tax would rise by inflation
  • Visitor tax – There would be a consultation on the principles of a locally determined visitor levy with a view to introducing legislation to allow local authorities to adopt such a policy
  • Workplace car parking tax – The Scottish Government will agree with the Greens an amendment to the Transport Bill that will enable local authorities to have a levy on workplace car parking
  • Devolution of empty property rates relief – this power will be devolved by the time of the next revaluation

The Scottish Government has previously stated that the originally proposed out-of-town levy will not be introduced but will be kept under review.