Lib Dems to back SNP on local income tax?

by Stephen Tall on August 8, 2008

The Scotsman reports that the Lib Dems are going to come to the rescue of the SNP to ensure that the council tax is replaced by a local income tax in Scotland:

SNP ministers are prepared to do a deal with the Liberal Democrats which could see every council in Scotland set its own income tax rate, it emerged yesterday. The Scottish Government wants to introduce a nationally-set local income tax of 3p in the pound to replace the council tax, but its proposals have come in for heavy and sustained criticism since their publication earlier this year.

Business groups, councils, some unions, student groups and opposition politicians have all railed against the proposals, championed by John Swinney, the finance secretary, claiming that they will not raise enough money and will damage the economy. However, it is now understood that ministers are prepared to change their plans to secure the parliamentary backing they need.

As the SNP is running the Scottish Government as a minority administration, it needs the support of one of the other main parties to get its plans through. The Lib Dems support the principle of a local income tax, but are adamant that it must be set locally, by individual councils, rather than by the Scottish Government at 3p in the pound.

All three contenders for the leadership of the Scottish Lib Dems confirmed yesterday that this remained their position, and all insisted that they would not compromise on the principle of a “local” income tax. …

And in case you were wondering how this story might relate to yesterday’s suggestions that Vince Cable is looking to reform the Lib Desm’ policy on council tax in England, the Scotsman explains:

… even if Mr Cable did manage to change party policy in England, it would not alter the position of the party in Scotland.