Issues guide: Economy and tax

Westminster is responsible for the wider economy, but Holyrood agrees a separate Budget for Scotland to cover all devolved policy areas, based on the three-year settlement received from the Treasury under the Barnett funding formula.

It also sets inward investment and job creation goals for Scotland. Scottish ministers oversee main economic development agencies and the voluntary sector.

Tax is largely an issue for the Westminster government - Holyrood has powers to vary income tax by 3p above or below UK rate, but the so-called "Tartan Tax" has never been used. Scotland has responsibility for administering European Structural Funds.

Here, BBC news online Scotland outlines the economy and tax policies of the SNP, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens.

Election issues 2011

Economy and tax

Scottish National Party



Liberal Democrats


  • Continue council tax freeze in next parliament.
  • Offer 100,000 training opportunities each year, including £11.5m to fund 25,000 modern apprenticeships. (46,500 training opportunities in 2011-12, including 7,000 flexible training opportunities smaller firms.)
  • £250m Scottish Futures Fund focussing on young people and early years, rolling out superfast broadband to rural areas, a "warm homes" initiative and transport fund.
  • Continue Small Business Bonus scheme, with 80,000 firms paying no or lower rates.
  • Press Westminster for devolution of corporation tax, excise duty, enhanced borrowing powers, responsibility for the Crown Estate Commission and Job Centres.
  • Deliver a 50% increase in exports over six years.
  • Abolish youth unemployment in next parliament and create 250,000 jobs by end of decade.
  • 10,000 work placements for unemployed young people through new Scottish Future Jobs Fund.
  • New Scottish Living Wage of at least £7.15 an hour, beginning in the public sector.
  • Guaranteed modern apprenticeship for every suitably qualified 16 to 18-year-old who wants one from 2013.
  • Freeze council tax for the next two years, with no above-inflation rises thereafter.
  • Double value of exports over next decade.
  • A continued freeze for council tax bills for all in 2012-13.
  • No council allowed above-inflation tax rises without agreement from its taxpayers in a referendum.
  • £200 Council Tax cut for every pensioner household.
  • Maintain business rate relief from small businesses.
  • £140m Scottish business start-up fund to support access to enterprise, vocational training, and to provide aid to create new businesses.
  • New Scottish minister for enterprise and jobs, with responsibility for enterprise, planning, transport and infrastructure.
  • Create the conditions for 100,000 new jobs, supported by at least £1.5bn of investment freed up by selling off Scottish Water debt, turning it into a "public benefit company".
  • Replace Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland agencies with regional development banks to support 1,000 businesses.
  • Make Scotland the most digitally connected region in Europe.
  • Deliver enterprise zones in Scotland, encouraging economic growth through a package of business support measures.
  • Create the conditions to help grow Scotland's export value by 50% and double by 2020 the number of Scottish companies who trade overseas by 2020.
  • Invest £250m to deliver superfast broadband to all parts of Scotland and improve mobile phone coverage.
  • Introduce land value tax at just above 3p in the pound to replace Council Tax, to raise an extra £1bn a year, and 8p in the pound levy to replace business rates.
  • Bring disused and untaxed business property into the scope of business rates and raise existing large business supplement from 0.7p to 2p as "interim measure".
  • Use of the Scottish variable rate to increase tax by 0.5p to counteract UK spending cuts.
  • Consider new "hotel tax".
  • Keep the small business bonus and look into "rates holidays" for seasonal tourist businesses, while giving councils share of business rate growth.
  • At least 10% of public spending to go through social enterprise.

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