SCOTTISH Labour have a “presumption against any increases in income tax”, Anas Sarwar has said.

The MSP claimed that the current income tax rates are “hammering” families struggling with the cost of living crisis at an event in Trades Hall in Glasgow on Thursday.

During the SNP leadership contest, Humza Yousaf proposed a new tax band for those earning more than £43,662.

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Modelling from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) for such a proposal found it would generate an additional £257 million for the public purse.

However, at a meeting of business leaders in Glasgow, Sarwar said his party is “unashamedly pro-business and pro-growth”.

It comes after shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves (below) rolled back on commitments from UK Labour on introducing a wealth tax and raising the highest rate of income tax if the party comes to power in Westminster. 

Sarwar said that raising income tax could not be used as a substitute for economic growth.

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"I think income tax has been used as the substitute for economic growth, and it's actually choking off opportunity and actually hammering families in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

"He seems to believe, our First Minister, that someone earning over £24,000 a year is somehow well off and therefore should pay higher taxes.

“You ask families across the country that are on £24,000.

"They don't feel very well off, they're struggling to pay their mortgages.

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“Mortages have gone up because of Tory economic chaos.

"They're struggling to pay their energy bills, they're struggling to pay their food bills, and now they're getting hit with a potential of a council tax increase of over £700 as well.”

Sarwar said this was “choking off opportunity” and pushing more people into poverty.

"So we have a presumption against any increases to income tax, and we instead want the Scottish Government to focus relentlessly on economic growth to increase the size of the cake and to then make those strategic investments so we can deliver social reform here in Scotland," he added.

The National: Jackie Baillie and Anas Sarwar

The Scottish Labour leader used his speech in Glasgow, where he launched an economic advisory board to “deliver growth”, to hit out at the SNP and said their “ambition for Scotland and our people stops at the border”.

"Our ambition is much greater than that,” he said.

“We want to showcase what we have to offer to a bigger, worldwide audience.

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"To capitalise on Scotland’s unique identity as a global USP to promote Scottish exports and attract tourism and investment."

Sarwar said his focus would be on a green revolution, Scotland the brand and financial services and technology.

The Scottish Labour leader also said he does not support the devolution of drug laws to Scotland and that powers should remain with Westminster, following a Home Office committee report calling for trials of safe consumption rooms to be given the go-ahead.