THE Scottish Government should bring in tariffs on “big whisky” to avoid cutting public services amid a cost-of-living crisis, the SNP’s trade union group (SNPTUG) has said.

The group welcomed the pay deal which saw bin and education strikes across Scotland’s councils averted early in September, but questioned why cuts would be needed in other areas.

After First Minister Nicola Sturgeon intervened, trade unions Unison, Unite, and the GMB said they would recommend that their members accept a new pay deal worth some £600 million.

However, Sturgeon said that, because the “Scottish Government has got a finite budget that is not itself rising at the rate of inflation”, balancing the books would require “horrendously difficult decisions”.

READ MORE: Why the Scottish Government must consider a tax on 'big whisky'

The SNPTUG – which represents some 14,000 members – has instead called for taxes to be levied on the most wealthy in society with a specific target on the backs of “big whisky”.

The group’s convener Bill Ramsay said: "We welcome the best possible pay settlements for public sector workers who are being hammered by the cost-of-living crisis, and we are pleased that SNP councillors and MPs have joined picket lines with us. The First Minister has also worked hard for resolution of industrial disputes brought about by inflation and the abject failure of the UK Government.

"But the Scottish Government must also do everything it can to avoid cuts to public services in the light of the economic squeeze. We must not set workers against public services, or vice versa.

"As well as demanding action from Westminster, that means thinking creatively about the best use of the limited powers we do have. This certainly includes looking at how we could raise up to £1 billion from the big, corporate end of the whisky industry – money which at present largely goes overseas.”

READ MORE: Six things the Scottish Parliament CAN do to tackle the cost of living crisis

Writing in The National, Ramsay argues that it is “time Scotland’s Big Party takes on Big Whisky”.

“Not the wee craft and niche distilleries, but the giants who run the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and its extensive and hugely effective lobbying arm,” he adds.

“If what amounts to a special industrial water rate, and some other measures, are within the competence of current devolved powers, then sums between £250m and £1bn could be raised.

“Such a levy would not touch the sides of the multi-billion-pound global profitability of Scotch. If the SWA and its lobbyists feel otherwise, then let’s have an open debate about that.

“The cost-of-living crisis demands that all such options be considered.”

Under the Scotland Act all local taxes are devolved, meaning there could be scope to introduce whisky bottling levies at a council level.

The SNPTUG has also submitted a motion to be considered for the party’s full conference, due to be held in Aberdeen in early October, calling for a feasibility study into the possibility of a whisky levy.

It is urging members to support the motion in a choice ballot which will be sent out ahead of the conference.

A separate motion submitted by the group, calling on the Scottish Government to creatively use its devolved powers to raise taxes on the highest earners, was dropped from the agenda.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Tax policy for 2023-24 will be announced at the upcoming Scottish Budget, as per the normal fiscal process.”