IT is said that tax is the price we pay for a civilised society, and it’s true.

That’s what pays for the services we all rely on, like schools and our NHS, and it supports the social safety net which supports us when we need it.

Those who earn the most should pay the most to deliver those essential services. And those who have less should pay less. It’s a simple principle and one that lies at the heart of the approach that Scottish Greens have always taken to taxation.

READ MORE: New devolution-busting funding announced as Scotland denied say on £8m pot

That approach has resulted in Scotland having by far the most progressive tax system anywhere in the UK.

Through tax and budget negotiations in opposition and then over the last two years as a party of government, we have ensured that Scotland has an extra £1.5 billion more to spend on essential public services next year alone. That benefit will be seen and felt in every community across our country.

It’s how we’re delivering record funding and support for social security, including the groundbreaking Scottish Child Payment, which has been instrumental in lifting 90,000 children out of poverty this year and providing stability for hard pressed families in a cost of living crisis.

It is how we have delivered free bus travel for everyone under 22 and record support for climate action, including nature restoration, recycling and cycling infrastructure.

That’s on top of measures like cancelling school meal debt, another Green proposal we’re now delivering from government. We’re also expanding school kitchens to provide free lunches to 20,000 more kids later in the year. That will be followed later by the full rollout to all P6&7 pupils, building on the universal provision already given to P1-5 pupils.

Research from the House of Commons Library has shown that if the UK Government was to take the same position and ask the wealthiest to pay a little bit more, then it would raise more than £11bn a year. That’s enough to scrap the cruel child benefit cap and the brutal bedroom tax many times over.

READ MORE: More people coming from UK to Scotland than other way round, figures show

Taxation is a choice, and sometimes it can be a difficult one. But, especially for a devolved Parliament like Holyrood which lacks basic financial powers, it is a really important one and says a lot about the values of the government making those choices. That’s why some of the reaction to this week’s budget from opposition parties has been so ridiculous – and so telling.

That budget announcement included a new income tax rate at £75,000-£125,000. It also included the addition of an extra 1p on the top rate.

Together they will affect only the top 5% of people in Scotland. This was a key objective of both the Scottish Greens and of the trade union movement, so we are proud to have delivered it.

We’ve combined this approach to income tax with a renewed focus on empowering councils, with new powers to allow them to double council tax on second homes and holiday homes and incoming powers to raise funds via a tourist tax, a cruise ship levy and a levy on big developers, the latter of which will be ring fenced for much needed infrastructure.

There was no clearer example of how Scottish Labour takes its orders from London than seeing Anas Sarwar attack progressive tax policies which he and his MSPs previously supported.

Their Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Murray, even claimed that an extra tax on top earners would see people fleeing to London, which is not exactly a city known for its affordability.

READ MORE: Cost of Christmas dinner up by almost one fifth compared to last two years

Yet, while Labour has asked us to sit down, think of the rich and halt all tax increases, they have also called for billions in additional funding without offering up even the vaguest suggestion as to how it should be paid for, or what £1.5bn worth of public spending they would cut in order to make up the shortfall after reversing our progressive Green tax policies.

Welsh Labour have rightly called out the Westminster Government as the main reason why their budget is in such a sorry state, but Scottish Labour are far more interested in undermining our progressive government than fighting the Tories.

The First Minister should be commended for the stance he has taken in the face of intense hostility from the Westminster parties, and so much of our media. My Scottish Green colleagues and I will work with him to build on this and deliver even bolder reform in the years ahead.

We need to see the same courage from UK parties, yet when it comes to tax there is little if any difference between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak.

If we want to build a better and more progressive society that protects our planet and supports the most vulnerable then we have to pay for it, especially at a time when Downing Street’s response is to double down on the policies causing so much misery to households and so much damage to our climate.

And it must be the richest who pay the most to build that fairer, greener society.

This generation of politicians have era-defining decisions to make on tackling child poverty and climate breakdown.

The Scottish Greens are proud to say that tax has a vitally important role to play in achieving those goals, and that it is those with the broadest shoulders and the deepest pockets who should pay the most.

It is time for the opposition parties to stop playing games and start showing some principle.