THE Deputy First Minister has urged MSPs to approve tax and spending plans for the coming year which will see the “limited resources” of the Scottish Government focused on “where they are needed most”.

John Swinney, who is also acting finance secretary, made the appeal ahead of the final vote on the Scottish Budget for 2023-24.

As part of that, Holyrood ministers are seeking to put up charges for middle and higher earners, with all people in Scotland earning more than £43,662 facing a rise in income tax.

Swinney has already pledged the extra cash raised from this will go to help the NHS in Scotland.

And he insisted his budget plans for the coming year represented a “more progressive path” with extra help proposed for those “in most need”.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s final vote, Swinney appealed to MSPs from all parties to “acknowledge the challenging economic conditions we face and support the decision to focus our limited resources where they are needed most”.

He said there would be spending of £5.2 billion on social security in Scotland, with benefits due to rise by 10.1% from April.

The Deputy First Minister also said the “progressive choices” which had been made on income tax would contribute to record funding of more than £19bn for health and social care north of the Border.

Those changes will see both the higher rate and top rate of income tax increased by 1p, rising to 42p and 47p respectively.

While the threshold for the 42p tax rate will be frozen, the Scottish Government is proposing all people in Scotland earning £125,140 a year or more will pay the very top rate of income tax.

Speaking about his proposals, Swinney said: “The budget rejects austerity and provides relief for those in most need.

“It invests in transforming the economy and creating sustainable, high-quality jobs which pay a fair wage, while confirming our commitment to future generations by continuing the drive towards net zero.”

While councils have criticised their funding allocation, Swinney claimed his budget sought to “reiterate our support for Scotland’s local authorities”, adding that they provided “crucial services to communities across the country”.

Swinney – who is delivering the budget while Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is on maternity leave –stated: “We cannot do everything, but this represents a more progressive path which asks everyone to contribute their fair share towards creating a fair, inclusive and successful Scotland that we all want to see.”

Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens, who are in Government with the SNP at Holyrood, said the budget would help protect Scots from “possibly the worst and most reckless Tory government in history”.

Greer, who is his party’s finance spokesperson, said: “We have increased the number of children who can access free school meals and are funding an increase in the amount of the Scottish Child Payment and the removal of peak rail fares.”

And he added: “This is also the greenest Budget in the history of the Scottish Parliament, with more than £2bn to tackle the climate and nature crises.”

Greer also said Scotland’s taxation system was the “most progressive” in the UK, with the income tax changes, combined with measures for second home owners, meaning that “the highest earners and those buying extra properties chip in a bit more to fund our public services”.