Rachel Reeves accuses SNP of 'whacking up taxes on working people' instead of energy giants

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves pledged not to increase income tax, National Insurance or VAT
-Credit: (Image: Wattie Cheung)

Rachel Reeves has accused the SNP of "whacking up taxes on working people" instead of supporting a windfall tax on profits earned by big energy companies.

The Shadow Chancellor used a visit to a Chivas Brothers bottling plant in Dumbarton to pledge Labour will back Scottish businesses "big and small" if the party wins power at next week's general election.

And the senior Labour MP hit out at the Scottish Government's decision to hike income taxes at a time many people are struggling with the cost of living.

Reeves and Keir Starmer have repeatedly promised not to raise National Insurance, VAT or income taxes if they enter Downing Street.

Personal income tax rates in Scotland are devolved and set by SNP ministers - with workers currently earning £29,000 or above paying more than they would elsewhere in the UK.

Further changes to personal taxation in Scotland also saw the creation of a new tax band of 45p for those on salaries of between £75,000 and £125,140.

Reeves told the Record there was "huge potential" in the Scottish economy but said growth was lagging and was not being "properly tapped".

She said: "We're here at Chivas to say a Labour government are going to back Scottish businesses, big and small.

"Since 2020, there are 6,000 fewer businesses, and 44,000 fewer people in work. And yet we see the huge potential in the Scottish economy. If you look at the growth numbers, that is not being properly tapped."

SNP ministers regularly argue they are constrained by a lack of fiscal powers available to the Scottish Government, but this argument was dismissed by Reeves.

She continued: "They have quite a lot of fiscal powers, and what do they use them for? Increasing taxes on ordinary working people, during a cost of living crisis. That's how they use their fiscal powers.

"I've been really clear - if I become chancellor as part of the next Labour government, I won't increase income tax, National Insurance, or VAT. That's very different from the SNP, who are whacking taxes up on working people, in the same way the Conservatives have taken taxes to a 70-year high.

"That's their record. We need to break out of this by growing our economy. Both in Scotland and across the UK, we've been in the bottom third of the league table of similarly developed economies around the world. By breaking out of that, we can improve living standards and have the money for public services."

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves at Chivas Brothers in Dumbarton -Credit:Wattie Cheung
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves at Chivas Brothers in Dumbarton -Credit:Wattie Cheung

Asked if she would urge the SNP to rule out further increases in income tax, Reeves said: "The irony is, they have whacked up income taxes on working people, but they have refused to back us on extending the windfall tax on the big profits the energy giants are making.

"It tells you all you need to know about the SNP. They are not willing to tax windfall profits that are made because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but instead they are happy to keep the burden on working people who are struggling with the cost of living crisis.

"I would urge the SNP to rethink again on the windfall tax - they could back Labour's plans, and ease the pressure on working people in the way Labour has promised to do."

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