TREASURY TAX GRAB ON SCOTS PUBLIC SERVICES
Monday, 23 January 2017 11:39
FIGURES REVEAL POLICE AND FIRE SERVICE VAT BURDEN
Scotland’s public finances are being drained to the tune of £43 million each year – as the Tory Treasury levies a hefty VAT bill on police and fire services north of the border, despite the equivalent territorial forces being exempt in the rest of the UK.
The UK government has stubbornly refused to exempt Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue from the tax – despite repeated demands from the SNP and sustained calls from Scottish Government ministers.
New calculations by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) show the number of police officers and firefighters which could be paid for with the cash siphoned off by HMRC.
Police Scotland’s annual VAT liability is estimated at £33 million, which would pay for an additional 1,032 police officers.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s annual VAT bill is around £10 million, which would pay for an additional 337 firefighters.
Commenting, Angus MacDonald MSP said:
“It’s widely accepted that this Tory tax is completely unjustifiable and it’s draining tens of millions of pounds each year from Scotland’s public finances.
“Our Police and Fire services are continuing to do a fantastic job under the financial burdens of Westminster austerity, however just think what could be done to further strengthen the safety of our communities, without this ridiculous tax bill.
“Thousands of additional police officers could be on our streets, paid for by the £33million tax bill which is currently lost to the UK Treasury.
“And there are much better ways for our fire and rescue services to spend £10 million than on an unfair and needless tax bill – it’s the equivalent of paying for 337 firefighters.
“People are right to be dismayed that these tax rules apply uniquely to Scotland, while the rest of the UK is exempt. It’s grossly unfair and Chancellor Philip Hammond owes it to Scotland to fix this muddle. He should exempt our police and fire services from this Tory tax bill – giving them more support to get on with the vital job they do to keep us all safe.”