Derek Mackay’s first budget as finance secretary is assailed from all sides – even his own. Scottish Conservatives label Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK; Labour’s Kezia Dugdale endorses higher Scottish taxes as part of a federal-style devolution of revenue-raising powers. Leading economist David Eiser pondered deeper economic issues.
“If it is baby boxes for all as a sign of our equality, let it be free fuel for all, free transport for all, citizen’s income for all, free school meals, shoes and coats for all. If the aim is the best start in life for all of Jock Tamson’s bairns, then why not? What would stop us?”
“A full-blown universal income would be even more expensive, involving rises of 10%, taking the basic rate of income tax to 30% and the higher and top rates to 50%. Politically those increases are unthinkable. They would take us back to the 1970s. Since then the direction of income taxes has been relentlessly downwards…”
The new economic initiatives are all welcome, but are unlikely to make much impression on Scotland’s low productivity and lack of investment. Yet the weak economy remains the Scottish Government’s biggest problem. Growth lags that of the rest of the UK and…under the Smith Commission changes, lower growth means lower public spending. Home grown austerity may not be far off.
“The renewables investment would generate substantially more sustainable jobs in areas like design, construction and operations and maintenance over the typical 25-year lifespan of a facility.” Why taxpayer-funded North Sea decommissioning is a bad idea.
‘Instead of policy issues we were presented with one of two questions. Either “the minister wants to do this, can you provide evidence to show it is a good thing?” Or “the minister wants to do this, can you help us kill it off?”’ The DHI director on the rush from evidence into the dark world opf politics….