Why would you cut energy efficiency funding in a climate emergency – Alex Cole-Hamilton

Yesterday’s Scottish Budget hit the headlines because of the introduction of a new top tax rate for higher earners, and a rise in tax for the richest. But there were some real devils in the detail.

The BBC’s report states that:

Plans to accelerate clean heating systems will receive £358m of funding.

This might be fine, but the figure last year was £367.5 million.

They have also cut the funding for fuel poverty and housing quality from £21.8 million to £1.7 million.

And that is before you even start to mention the effective cut to Council budgets because of the Council Tax freeze. A report last week suggested that a quarter of Scottish Councils fear bankruptcy.

Alex said in response to Finance Secretary Shona Robison’s statement:

The SNP has spent years ignoring expert warnings about the lack of a long-term economic strategy and the impact of its failure to grow the economy. Scotland needs predictability and a long-term plan for tax and the wider economy, not erratic changes that will undermine confidence.

We now know from the budget who will pay the price: everyone who is going without the social care that they need, parents who cannot access childcare and pupils who are left behind as Scotland slides down the international rankings. Councils are on the brink, and education is half of what they do. The vulnerable, pupils and taxpayers—all taxpayers—are all suffering the cost of SNP-Green incompetence, from ferries to the white elephant takeover of social care.

The budget is about priorities. Why is the Government slashing energy efficiency spending in the middle of a climate emergency, and why is the Deputy First Minister slashing the housing budget in the middle of a housing emergency?

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10 Comments

  • Mary Fulton 20th Dec '23 - 5:30pm

    The Scottish Government must, by law, balance its budget. It chose to increase taxes on those with higher incomes rather than cut spending more. I agree with that approach. However, the Scottish Government needs to have wider powers over taxation to be able to use fiscal policy to boost the economy and ultimately increase tax take.

  • @Mary. The Scottish Government announced that council tax was to be frozen. Removing (once again) power from local government. When pushed they say they’ll make up the money, but there was little detail. Once again an expensive policy announced to detract from their failings.

    It looks like the total extra required to compensate councils for yet another real terms cut to council tax would be £140 million. Approximately double what Robison claims will be gained from the income tax increases. Independent experts point out that the actual additional income from putting up income tax will be less than this.

    In other words, the Scottish Government are once again on a centralising mission, using their financial powers to remove the ability of local government to raise extra cash, while reducing the total tax take, and hitting the economy.

    Those who will benefit most from the council tax freeze will be those in the most expensive houses. And some of us remember the SNP manifesto promise to replace the council tax with something more progressive. But fulfilling manifesto promises using powers already available to them is less important to them than blaming Westminster and demanding more powers.

  • Mary Fulton 21st Dec '23 - 6:29pm

    @Fiona
    The Scottish government has announced an offer of £144M to Councils in return for a freeze in Council Tax. Of course, Councils do not have to take the money – it is only the equivalent of a 5% rise in Council Tax so they may prefer to ignore the offer and increase Council Tax by more than 5% instead. Personally I believe the Council Tax should be abolished and income tax increased to finance this – a freeze is not as good as abolition, but it is something.

  • A freeze that most benefits the most wealthy is regressive. The Scottish Government’s choice has been to reduce the overall tax intake which means services are being cut, as well as funds to reduce fuel poverty.

    This government hasn’t a clue on how to help businesses. Their stubborn insistence on ploughing ahead with policies, such as the ill-fated bottle return scheme, long after it’s clear they need fundamental change, just to be first in the UK, is costing business and the public purse millions. Not to mention the ferry fiasco. Not just public money wasted on shoddy procurement, but the costs to individuals and the economy.

    Meanwhile, SG has record numbers staff to do PR and Holyrood has the subsidised bar and restaurant costs us hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

    Council Tax should be replaced with a land value tax or similar.

  • nigel hunter 22nd Dec '23 - 11:26am

    It is time these subsidised Bars and Restaurants THROUGHOUT UK POLITICS were named and shamed more widely cos it leads to even more disillusion with politics re ‘they are all in it forthemselves’.

  • nigel hunter 22nd Dec '23 - 11:29am

    As an addition there is more reason to point out the subsidies when MPs have just had a pay rise by the ‘independant !?’ board.After all are they worth it whilst Doctors have to fight for it?

  • Simon McGrath 22nd Dec '23 - 12:12pm

    Nigel – what makes you think the body which sets MPs pay is not independent?

  • Nigel Quinton 23rd Dec '23 - 5:54pm

    @Fiona How does freezing council tax benefit the rich? Council tax is a regressive tax, ergo freezing it is surely progressive rather than regressive. I heard a similar comment on R4 last week typically uncritically repeating a line that probably came from some right wing ‘think tank’ insidiously infecting the narrative. Council tax is NOT a progressive tax!

  • Peter Davies 23rd Dec '23 - 6:15pm

    Council tax is not progressive. A budget that cuts services that overwhelmingly benefit the poor in order to freeze Council Tax might be regressive. I’m sure we can agree though that a switch to LVT and maintaining local services is a better option.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Dec '23 - 9:12pm

    Council tax is surely regressive in the way it is calculated – with Bands A – H (in england) and the top band H covering all properties valued above £320, 000 (at 1991 prices). So wealthy people with very fancy high value houses pay the same as someone with a property valued at £320,000.

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