A MOTION calling on the SNP to “creatively” use devolved tax powers to help tackle the cost-of-living crisis has been excluded from the draft conference agenda.

The SNP’s annual conference will be held in October in Aberdeen, and the party’s trade union group had put forward a motion on tax powers for consideration.

It called for the Scottish Government to increase taxes on the country’s highest earners and replace council tax.

The SNP pledged to scrap council tax ahead of the 2007 Holyrood elections, but Nicola Sturgeon said in April there were still no plans to do so – despite saying the local tax was not “fair or progressive”.

READ MORE: Council tax cost in Scotland 'the best deal in Britain', SNP say

The trade union group (SNP TUG) – which has some 14,000 members – had submitted a motion calling for “creative” use of tax powers to help tackle “the damaging impact of the cost-of-living crisis [and] the severe cash squeeze faced by the Scottish Government”.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney – who is filling the finance brief while Kate Forbes is on maternity leave – wrote to the UK Government on Monday to ask for more funding to pay for public sector wage increases.

Swinney said: “UK Spending Review, which as you know determines the majority of the Scottish Budget, did not take account of the levels of pay uplift now proposed or indeed the wider effects of inflation.”

The SNP TUG said Swinney was “right” to pressure the UK Government to do more, but said the “Scottish Government also needs to look at what it can do with the limited but important tax powers Scotland holds”.

The National: SNP TUG convener Bill Ramsay speaking at a previous party conferenceSNP TUG convener Bill Ramsay speaking at a previous party conference

The group’s convener, Bill Ramsay, said he was “disappointed” that the motion calling for greater use of devolved tax powers had been excluded from the draft agenda.

He said: “What [the motion] argued is that in view of the threat of cuts and the public sector squeeze, there is an urgent need to increase the tax contribution of higher earners across Scotland, to give local authorities the discretion to introduce taxes to protect local services, and to hasten the process of replacing council tax with a new residential property tax related to actual value.

“We are disappointed that this motion, which forms part of the wider economic debate needed, was not included in the draft agenda, but we will continue to find every way possible to press these issues, which we believe have wide support throughout the party and in Scotland.

“Our recent meeting with senior officials from the STUC indicated wide-ranging agreement on the need for both short and long-term alternatives.

“It makes sense for the Scottish Government to engage with us and with the trade union movement as a whole over the current spending review, taxation, public sector pay and pushing back against yet another wave of disastrous Westminster policies.

“In the meantime we will continue to support both the rightful demands of public sector workers and the campaign for the full economic powers that only independence can provide.”

The motion in full reads:


In view of the damaging impact of the cost-of-living crisis, the severe cash squeeze faced by the Scottish Government as it negotiates its spending review, and the opportunity for Scotland to model itself on small progressive European nations (highlighted by a renewed case for independence), conference urges the creative use of revenue generating opportunities to move us towards a better future.

We wish to see extended use of limited tax powers under devolution to protect public investment and expenditure in the face of further UK-driven austerity, and to further our aims of a more just and equal society.

In pursuing recovery from the pandemic, avoiding damaging cuts, and building purposeful partnerships for economic change – not least with trade unions and people in local communities – conference therefore calls for practical moves to:

  • Increase the tax contribution of higher earners across Scotland.
  • Grant local authorities the power and discretion to introduce taxes which appropriately meet local needs and protect local services.
  • Speed up the reform of local authority finance, including replacing the council tax with a new residential property tax related to actual value.

Conference recognises that many smaller European nations which an independent Scotland will seek to learn from generate substantially more revenue through taxation, generate more revenue locally, and enjoy significantly lower inequalities of wealth and income.

In making the case for Scotland’s prosperous, self-governing future, we believe that it is essential to use existing powers, however limited, to continue to protect our country from the ravages of UK policies, and to build deeper and wider support for gaining the economic powers to improve life for all which can only come with independence.

The SNP have been approached for comment.