The Highland Lib Dems Carolyn Caddick and Angela MacLean are backing Willie Rennie MSP’s call to use ever-growing parliamentary powers to make a real difference in education in Scotland.
The Scottish Lib Dem Leader, Mr Rennie, has repeated his calls for a penny to be added onto each income tax rate to raise £475m a year for nurseries, schools and colleges.
Today Parliament’s Finance Committee published a report on the 2016-17 draft budget recommending a wide-ranging debate on tax policy but supporting SNP Ministers’ proposals to set the Scottish Rate of Income Tax at 10p for 2016-17.
Earlier this week Mr Rennie unveiled bold proposals to raise £475m a year for education by increasing income tax by a penny. Thanks to Liberal Democrats raising the personal allowance in government, the progressive policy means those earning under £19,000 a year would pay less tax than they currently do. Almost half of the additional revenue would be raised from 12% of the richest individuals.
Carolyn Caddick, councillor and candidate for Inverness & Nairn, said: “I think we should have the best education in the world. We have a fantastic new university campus in Inverness and a good record of education in the Highlands, but it’s being undermined by the Scottish Government.
“Cuts imposed by the SNP on Highland services and Local Government are having a significant impact on education across the region. Teacher and staff morale is being damaged and more importantly provisions for our youngsters in the Highlands are being squeezed.
“We now have the chance to change that, and it’s down to the Scottish Government to use the new powers available to them.”
Angela MacLean, councillor and candidate for Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch, said: “If we can’t use the additional tax raising powers to help improve education, what is the point in having them?
“The Scottish Government have this fantastic opportunity to do something really positive for the next generation, they should take it.
“In the last government the Lib Dems delivered huge income tax cuts for average earners, and took many low earners out of paying income tax altogether. A penny on the income tax rate could now raise £475m for education without affecting the worst off.”
Commenting on the report, Mr Rennie said: “The Scottish Parliament has an ever-growing range of exciting powers that we can use to make a real difference almost immediately.
“The Liberal Democrats’ plan to raise £475m a year for Scottish education would do just that. We would be able to expand nursery education, help pupils who need the must support and reverse the decline in our colleges.
“As the committee heard, adding one penny to each tax rate is progressive. Thanks to Liberal Democrats’ raising the personal allowance while in government, people earning under £19,000 a year will actually pay less in tax than they currently do.
“The Finance Committee calls for a wide-ranging debate on tax policy and Liberal Democrats are proud to be leading that debate. We are standing firm behind our proposal and shall be submitting it as part of the budget process.”