Humza Yousaf has pledged to freeze council tax for Scots subsequent yr, with the Scottish First Minister additionally saying “formidable” plans to subject bonds to assist fund “important” tasks.
The headline bulletins have been made by the SNP chief as he closed his celebration’s annual convention in Aberdeen.
However his plans to freeze council tax in Scotland subsequent yr may spark a rift with the Scottish Greens, who’re the SNP’s junior companions in Authorities at Holyrood and who have been solely instructed concerning the transfer on Tuesday.
The Scottish Authorities had beforehand opened a session which may have seen council tax on the best band properties elevated by between 7.5% and 22.5%.
However Mr Yousaf insisted the freeze was wanted to assist with “virtually everyone in Scotland” left struggling within the “Westminster cost-of-living disaster”.
There was no point out nonetheless of how a lot cash can be offered to councils consequently – with discussions now set to happen with native authorities leaders.
Cosla, the physique that represents Scotland’s 32 councils, stated it had not been instructed of the freeze previous to the speech.
A spokesperson stated: “We now have simply heard the announcement made on the SNP convention in relation to freezing council tax. We have been unaware of it prematurely.
“This has long run implications for all councils proper throughout the nation, at a time after we know there are acute monetary pressures, and the place we’re collectively all native income elevating choices.”
Ross Greer, the Scottish Inexperienced finance spokesman at Holyrood stated his celebration was “involved concerning the impact this freeze may have on already-strained frontline public providers if it’s not correctly funded”.
Nonetheless, Mr Yousaf insisted that motion was obligatory, saying that it “seems like too many are struggling, regardless of how arduous they work”.
He instructed the convention: “I can announce to the folks of Scotland that, subsequent yr, your council tax might be frozen.
“That’s the SNP delivering for folks after they want it probably the most.”
The announcement on each that, and the Scottish Authorities issued bonds, got here in what was Mr Yousaf’s first keynote convention speech since succeeding Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish First Minister and SNP chief earlier this yr.
Talking as he closed his celebration’s annual convention in Aberdeen, the First Minister pledged a further £300 million for the NHS over the following three years to assist cut back ready lists, saying that presently “too many individuals are nonetheless ready too lengthy for remedy”.
He additionally promised £500,000 for a pilot undertaking that may see lady fleeing abusive companions given as much as £1,000 to assist pay for necessities, with the Fund To Go away to be piloted within the 5 council areas which have the best variety of girls presenting as homeless due to abuse.
Mr Yousaf went on to pledge £500 million of Authorities money can be invested over the following 5 years to assist develop a provide chain in Scotland that may help offshore, renewable power tasks.
And, over the following 5 years, he stated funding in arts and tradition would greater than double.
“By the top of the 5 years, our funding might be £100 million increased than it’s right now,” the First Minister stated.
On the Scottish Authorities’s plans to subject bonds, Mr Yousaf stated this was the “most formidable proposal but”.
He acknowledged: “To fund important infrastructure like reasonably priced housing tasks, we’ll subject Scotland’s first ever bond.”
The First Minister added that that by the top of this present Holyrood time period in 2026, the Scottish Authorities would “topic, in fact to due diligence and market testing, go on to the worldwide bond marketplace for the primary time in our personal proper”.
Such a transfer, he stated, would additionally display Scotland has the “credibility to worldwide markets that we’ll want after we change into an unbiased nation”, the First Minister insisted.
His convention speech got here within the midst of inauspicious occasions for the SNP, after the celebration misplaced the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election earlier this month to Labour, whereas MP Dr Lisa Cameron give up the celebration to hitch the Tories.
With the SNP coming beneath growing stress from Labour in polls in Scotland, Mr Yousaf used his speech to assault the celebration’s UK chief, Sir Keir Starmer.
“In terms of values, I’ve acquired completely no concept what Keir Starmer stands for,” he stated.
“The nearer he will get to Downing Avenue, the additional he retreats from his rules.”
He criticised the Labour chief for his refusal to decide to scrapping the so-called rape clause – which prevents households from claiming some advantages for greater than two kids – ought to it win the following common election.
Mr Yousaf insisted: “The so-called rape clause is without doubt one of the cruellest insurance policies devised by this inhumane Tory Authorities.
“The one truthful factor to do with the rape clause is to abolish it.”
Whereas Mr Yousaf attacked the Conservative Authorities at Westminster throughout his speech, he didn’t point out Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Nonetheless, he singled out Residence Secretary Suella Braverman for criticism after her latest speech to the Tory convention warned of a “hurricane” of migrants coming to the UK and different western international locations.
“Once I hear that dog-whistle language it makes me shudder,” Mr Yousaf stated.
He added: “Suella Braverman’s most compassionate second got here when she stood on the tail of a information canine at convention.”
With the SNP having beforehand frozen council tax for a number of years after the celebration first got here to energy, Labour shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray stated: “Contemporary out of concepts for 2023, Humza Yousaf appears to have reached for the SNP’s 2007 manifesto for inspiration – however after 16 years of damaged guarantees Scots aren’t shopping for it any extra.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat economic system spokesperson Willie Rennie insisted it was an “unfunded tax minimize” like these from earlier Tory prime minister Liz Truss.
Blasting Mr Yousaf’s administration, the Lib Dem stated: “This Authorities is split, unstable and incompetent identical to Liz Truss’s was.”
Scottish Conservative chief Douglas Ross accused the First Minister of being “pleased to waste extra taxpayers’ cash on selling independence regardless of Scots fighting a worldwide cost-of-living disaster”.
The Tory insisted: “It’s fully the incorrect precedence for Scotland at the moment.”