Residents cannot justify living in Scotland due to high taxes, claims minister

Residents of Scotland are finding it increasingly difficult to justify remaining in the country due to higher taxes and “less good public services”, a Scotland Office minister has said.

John Lamont said those living near the Scottish border are considering moving south to England “every day of the week”.

Mr Lamont also accused the SNP-run Scottish Government of having a “high tax agenda”.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, the minister said: “Sadly, the SNP’s sole focus seems to be independence referendums and making Scotland the highest-taxed part of the United Kingdom.

Scotland Office minister John Lamont
Scotland Office minister John Lamont said those living near the Scottish border are considering moving south to England (Jane Barlow/PA Images)

“I can see this every day of the week in my own constituency as people are finding it increasingly difficult to justify remaining in Scotland when they’re paying so much more tax compared to the rest of the UK but getting less good public services.”

Mr Lamont’s comments came in response to Conservative former minister Kevin Foster (Torbay), who said: “Whilst his department is working to support the Scottish economy, the SNP is hitting it with higher taxes and not supporting vital sectors like hospitality and tourism in the way that’s happening in England.”

Labour also criticised the SNP’s tax rates and the possible impact on Scotland’s economy.

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “Since this Government has been in power, working people have paid on average 10p on the pound more in tax.

“The supposed party of low tax has created the highest tax burden on working people in 70 years, and it makes this the biggest tax-raising Parliament since records began.

“In Scotland, the SNP has looked at this tax burden and said, ‘hold my beer’ as everyone earning more than £28,000 pays even more tax than they do in England.

“What impact does the Minister think that historically high tax burden has on the Scottish economy?”

Mr Lamont, who represents Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, replied: “This Government remains focused on reducing the tax burden when it is prudent to do so but, as he identifies, in Scotland we have an additional challenge in terms of the high tax agenda being put forward by the Scottish Government, the SNP.

“And I share his concerns about the impact that is having on the ability of the Scottish economy to perform to its full potential.”

Labour’s shadow minister also argued the SNP should not join the campaign to ditch the Barnett formula, as this would be devastating for Scotland.

Mr Murray said: “We know that the Barnett formula results in an additional £19 billion of public spending into Scotland’s economy but, last week, The National newspaper reported that the SNP was being encouraged by their sister party in Wales to join the campaign to ditch the funding formula.

“16 years of SNP Government has left Scotland’s public finances with a £1 billion black hole, we’re in the middle of the worst cost-of-living crisis in generations yet historically high taxes are already being imposed on working people to pay for this.

“Losing the Barnett formula would devastate Scotland’s public finances and the economy like nothing we’ve seen before.”

Mr Lamont said: “The biggest enemy of the Barnett formula and the biggest enemy of devolution in Scotland is the SNP.

“They want to rip up the devolution settlement and they want to stop the Barnett formula which results in millions of pounds of extra investment going into Scotland each year.

“This party remains absolutely committed to devolution and that Barnett Formula and more investment into Scotland.”