Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick has criticised the ‘political manuevering’ of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem MSPs who voted down the SNP Government’s proposal to raise £30m from a levy on the largest out-of-town supermarkets.
Speaking after the Stage 1 Budget Debate at Holyrood today, Joe FitzPatrick said: “This SNP Government is doing its best within its limited powers to protect households and defend public services but Labour, Lib Dems and Tories have just cut £30 million from the budget for Scotland’s public services adding to their London counterparts cuts of £1.3 billion.
“Today’s vote shows the irresponsible priorities of opposition parties with Labour supporting the Tories as parties happy to increase VAT on families, raise council tax on households but refuse to tax big businesses to help Scotland’s economy.
“We must remember that two-thirds of the cuts we are having to grapple with in this budget were planned by the last Labour Government. Cuts which Alistair Darling said would be ‘deeper and tougher’ than those imposed by Margaret Thatcher.”
Speaking in the debate, the Dundee MSP said: “The first 4 years of SNP Government will have seen a freezing of council tax bills whereas the last 4 years of the Lib Lab administration witnessed an increase of 11% for households in Dundee.
“A band D household in Dundee would be paying an extra £150 on top of their bill this year if there was no freeze.
“And those figures assume that without the council tax freeze rates would go up roughly in line with inflation but if we take a look back we remember that the sky was the limit when it came to Labour’s determination to squeeze council tax payers.
“Between 1997 and 2007 council tax in Dundee went up by a staggering 51% and the worse year in that period was 1997/1998 – when Labour slammed the council tax up by 14.9% in just one year.
“But there is one group who can afford to contribute a little more and that’s the large supermarkets. “Provisional figures indicate that Tesco would have been the largest contributor through the Government’s proposed increase in business rates, paying some £8.5 million annually.
“When you set this in the context of the £3.4 billion of pre tax profits declared by the company last year, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they should contribute a little more.
“It is very disappointing that Labour voted against the council tax freeze which would save ordinary households money while at the same time they voted for big business like Asda and Tesco to be exempt from contributing a little more.
“Labour has a track record of putting the interests of big business before the interests of ordinary folk.
“We recently witnessed it with the Alcohol Bill, when Labour came out to bat for the big drinks companies to the detriment of the health of the people of Scotland.
“There is good news in the Budget and I welcome the restated commitment for funding for the V&A at Dundee in the Budget. This is a major step forward towards the completion of the project, crucial to securing the remaining investment and allowing the project to move forward at full speed.
“Dundee is already seeing inward investment being stimulated and we’re seeing a positive uplift to the local economy on the back of the V&A project moving forward so strongly.
“With this Budget the Government are standing up for communities, maintaining the 1000 extra police officers, standing up for households with Council Tax to be frozen for another year and investing in our future with funding for the V&A at Dundee.”