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by Louise Wilson
21 December 2023
Humza Yousaf defends tax increases as Douglas Ross warns of economic damage

Humza Yousaf was taking part in the last FMQs of 2023 | PA/Alamy

Humza Yousaf defends tax increases as Douglas Ross warns of economic damage

The First Minister has defended his government's plan to increase income tax on higher earners, saying it allows more investment in public services.

But Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the move would “damage the economy” and encourage workers to leave Scotland.

In the final FMQs of the year, Ross dubbed the First Minister “high-tax Humza” and said Scots would end up “paying more and getting less”.

Humza Yousaf said the extra cash would be used to provide a “real terms increase” to NHS funding.

He also pointed to figures which should net in-migration to Scotland from elsewhere in the UK stands at 10 million.

The heated exchange took place two days after the finance secretary Shona Robison delivered the budget for 2024-25.

The Scottish government will introduce a new income tax band for those earning between £75,000 and £125,000 at 45 per cent.

Ross accused the FM of “making hard-working Scots pick up the bill for his mistakes”.

Yousaf said: “Our policies mean that, yes, while we ask the top five per cent to pay a little more in tax, they get more for it.”

Labour's Anas Sarwar attacked the government's record on the NHS, saying on various measures it has “got worse not better” throughout the year.

He added: “2023 will be remembered as the year when the SNP were found out. They have broken the NHS, they have broken the justice system, they have broken the housing system, they have broken the public finances, they have broken the public’s trust and they seem to have broken their party in the process.”

Yousaf said the NHS was receiving record investment, while staff were the “best paid” in the UK.

He accepted there had been “challenges” in the budget but said this was due to “15 years of Conservative austerity”.

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