Dugdale writes to Harvie seeking agreement on an anti-austerity alternative
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has written to the Scottish Greens seeking to build an anti-austerity alternative to the Scottish budget.
In her letter, Kezia Dugdale outlines that local government suffered £1.4 billion of cuts under the SNP majority government of 2011 to 2016, and the Nationalists are threatening a further £327 million this year.
Ms Dugdale states that Labour is looking to work constructively with other parties to deliver a budget that stops the cuts.
The full text of the letter is below:
I am writing to you following media reports suggesting the Scottish Greens and the SNP government will potentially reach an agreement to pass the Scottish budget.
As you will be aware, Labour and the Greens are the two parties closest on tax and spend policy in the Scottish Parliament.
Along with the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Greens ran on manifestos committed to increasing progressive taxation to invest in public services.
That is why I believe that together we can build an anti-austerity alternative to the current budget.
By contrast, the Conservatives and the Nationalists mainly just disagree on how large the tax cut for the top 15 per cent should be, and as a consequence our public services will suffer.
In the period between 2011 and 2016, the SNP majority government cut £1.4 billion from local councils across Scotland.
Now, in their first period of minority government, SNP ministers are proposing a further £327 million of cuts.
You know what these cuts will mean: fewer teachers and support staff in our schools; 15 minute care visits for our elderly; cuts to social work departments and welfare advisors to support our most vulnerable.
Labour cannot vote for a budget that carries out these cuts.
That is why we will table amendments to the Scottish budget to stop, in full, the £327 million cuts to local services like schools and care of the elderly, and instead urge the government to use the new powers of the Parliament to invest in our economy.
The Scottish Parliament can now generate extra resources to make the cuts unnecessary. We will seek to set an income tax rate just one penny higher than the rate set by Phillip Hammond, and we will back a 50p top rate of tax for the richest few.
Only these amendments will raise enough to stop the cuts to these services and offer additional investment.
Earlier this week I wrote to Derek Mackay outlining this position. We are looking to work constructively with other parties to deliver a budget that stops the cuts.
You have grown your movement on an anti-austerity platform – I struggle to understand how you could contemplate voting for anything less than the full mitigation of cuts to public services.
In the interests of transparency, I am making this letter public.
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party