ON the day in which the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2018/19 passed a final vote at Holyrood, Green MSPs warned the First Minister they would only offer similar support next year if there is “meaningful progress” in reforming local taxation.

Co-convener Patrick Harvie said the “groundwork” for scrapping the current council tax system had already been done and there was now “cross-party recognition” the present arrangements must end.

Budget deals with the Greens, who have six MSPs at Holyrood, have allowed the minority SNP administration to pass its tax and spending plans for the last two consecutive years.

But Harvie said changes to local government taxation would now be required before his party would back another Scottish Budget.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon the Green MSP claimed successive Scottish Government Budgets had “squeezed local government harder than UK austerity has cut the national settlement”. And he made clear that Greens “are not willing to allow the national budget process to become an annual rear-guard action against local funding cuts”.

He stated: “Local tax reform is an opportunity to put local services on a sure financial footing.

“To ditch a system of taxation that asks poorer households to pay proportionally more, to adopt a fairer system of land and property taxation, to empower local decision-making, and to shift tax from income to wealth where inequalities are greater.”

While Harvie conceded the full replacement of the council tax system would “require time for consultation, legislation and implementation”, he stressed the “initial steps must be taken in order for progress to take place over the rest of the parliamentary session”.

Suggestions put forward by the Greens include devolving or partly devolving control of business rates to councils, setting a target for the proportion of council spending which is raised locally, and ministers committing to indicative multi-year funding deals for local government to help councils plan ahead better.

Earlier, Holyrood’s 2018/19 tax and spending plans were supported by MSPs by 70 votes to 56.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the Budget would bring about £1.2 billion of additional spending to invest “in a fairer Scotland”.

Opposition parties argued the plans were not ambitious enough.

The Budget includes major changes to Scotland’s income tax rates and bands, which will see higher earners pay more and lower earners pay less.

The new five-band system, which was approved in a separate vote on Tuesday, creates a 19p “starter” rate for lower earners and a 21p “intermediate” rate for earnings of more than £24,000. The higher and additional rates will also be increased to 41p and 46p respectively.

The SNP made a deal with the Scottish Greens last month to ensure its proposals were passed. The arrangement included an additional £159.5 million for Scottish councils and an extension of the public sector pay rise. A further £10.5m of extra funding for Northern Isles ferry services also ensured the backing of LibDem islands MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott.

The Budget also includes an extra £400m for the NHS and £179m to reduce the attainment gap in schools.

Mackay said the tax rises were being done “in a fair and proportionate way which will deliver hundreds of millions more for the public services of Scotland”.

“This Budget is about investing in a fairer Scotland. Yes there is divergence from the UK, our investments mean students don’t pay tuition fees, those who are ill don’t pay prescription charges, our citizens aren’t vulnerable to the Bedroom Tax,” he added.

“And I’m proud to represent the only government in the UK to lift the public sector pay cap and offer a real pay rise to public sector staff.”

Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said the SNP had broken a manifesto promise not to increase the basic rate of income tax.

“And while taxes are going up services are being cut,” he said.

“This is a Budget which should have put growing the economy first. It should have been a Budget for growth. Instead it is a Budget for cuts in public services and higher taxes.”

Labour had argued for greater tax rises for top earners, pushing for a 50p top rate to be introduced.

The party’s finance spokesman James Kelly said: “The reality is that we need bold and radical action in order to address the issues that we face across the country.

“This is a Budget that fails to address the scandal of child poverty and cuts to public services. This is a Budget that lets people down.”

LibDem leader Willie Rennie described the Budget as “a missed opportunity” in areas such as education and mental health.

“The Budget should be investing £500m in education – in nurseries, in schools and in colleges. Not just for the sake of education but for the sake of our economy as well.”