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A SNP minister’s bid to blame Westminster for Scotland’s higher taxes has been criticised as “financially illiterate” and “absurd” by critics.

Mairi McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy in the Scottish Government, tried to pin the blame for her party hiking taxes on the UK Government.

She was responding after entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter, who has called for lower taxes to build a bigger tax base north of the border, discussed the latest hikes on BBC Radio Scotland.

He said plans for six income tax bands are “absurd”, comparing Scotland’s system to Ireland’s, where there are only two as well as a higher threshold for taxation.

New tax rules in Scotland to be introduced from April 6 include an “advanced” tax band where those earning £75,000 or more will pay more income tax.

Fiscal drag also means people making more than £43,000 are set to be brought into a higher tax band as it rises with inflation.

In response to Sir Tom’s comments, Ms McAllan posted a series of comments on X. She said: “BBC Radio Scotland discussing Scottish tax and growth, with comparisons to Ireland – which is fine except there’s no mention that successful Ireland is (a) independent and (b) in the EU single market. These are key recipes for growth and critical to Scotland’s future prosperity.

“In the meantime, our progressive tax regime sees most people in Scotland pay less tax than (the rest of the UK) while asking those who can to pay a bit more – a social contract helping insulate our people and public services from relentless UK austerity nd providing services we all benefit from.”

She argued that income tax must be managed very carefully, with close regard to behaviours, but a discussion was needed, including that Scotland doesn’t have “most key powers”, was “dragged out of the EU” and the Scottish Government’s “progressive” Income Tax raises an extra £1.5billion compared with adhering to UK Government plans.

Ms McAllan’s remarks were criticised by the Scottish Tories, who pointed out it is the SNP which has damaged Scotland’s economy.

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Liz Smith MSP told the Scottish Daily Express: “Mairi McAllan’s financially illiterate attempt to blame the UK government for higher Scottish taxes is absurd. It was the SNP’s choice to bring in higher rates and no one else’s.

“The fact she then boasts about them being ‘progressive’ shows she still hasn’t grasped that the SNP’s creation of a huge tax gulf with the rest of the UK stymies growth, holds back business, deters skilled workers and puts Scottish jobs in danger.”

Sir Tom told the BBC his foundation had studied Ireland, adding: “As a country, it’s got less people than Scotland, but it’s going to run over the next three years a €60billion (£51.3bn) surplus. Scotland is going to run a £30bn deficit. There is something here for our politicians to look at, absolutely.”

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