MORE than half of voters in Scotland support Nicola Sturgeon’s government ‘s plans to raise income tax for the better off, according to a poll.

The YouGov survey found 54 per cent back Scottish Government proposals for an increase for the higher paid, while 27 per cent were against.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced changes to the income tax rates last month which would introduce two new bands and alter existing ones.

READ MORE: Yes campaigners must recognise that Scotland is already a wealthy nation

The budget proposals for 2018-19 will see the basic rate frozen at 20p, as well as the introduction of a new intermediate rate of 21p, which will kick in after £24,000.

The higher rate and additional rates are also being upped by 1p to 41p and 46p respectively, but the changes – which are still going through Holyrood – offset that with the introduction of a "Scottish starter rate’’ of tax of 19p, which will apply to the first £2000 of taxable income between £11,850 and £13,850.

If Mackay’s Budget is passed this year, it will mean people in Scotland earning more than £33,000 will see their income tax payments increase and they will also mean Scots earning more than £26,000 would pay more than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK from April.

The Scottish Government has warned that implementing Tory plans to keep income tax rates the same as the rest of the UK’s would mean a cut to public services of £500m next year.

YouGov pollsters for The Times found there was no difference in opinion between age groups in their response to the income tax plans, but more women supported them than men, and even one in four Conservative voters – 24 per cent – were in favour.

Mackay said: “As this poll and others have shown, a majority of Scots support the SNP’s progressive tax reforms that will allow us to invest in our schools and hospitals.

“The SNP is on the side of Scotland’s taxpayers ensuring that 70 per cent pay less and that Scotland has the fairest taxed system in the UK. I hope other parties will now back our tax plans.”

Labour claimed that the poll vindicated its own position on tax, which is to raise income tax across the board to raise money for public services.

James Kelly, the party’s finance spokesman, said: “This confirms that Scots are in favour of a more progressive system of taxation. However, the support for these proposals cannot be accurately considered at this time. This is because Derek Mackay’s tax plan will not stop cuts to lifeline local services. Poll after poll has shown Scots are willing to pay more tax to fund public services, instead, Derek Mackay has tinkered around the edges and delivered a plan which will just mean more cuts.”

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative’s finance spokesman, said: “Making Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK won’t just hit people in the pocket, it will damage the economy too.”

Mackay is in talks with other parties to get the Budget passed. The first vote is expected next month.