VAT Charges (Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 31st October 2017.

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Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

I just do not have time. I am sorry.

When the services were centralised, the VAT refund—appropriately—ceased to apply. That was all explained by the UK Government to Kenny MacAskill in 2012. I have the letters here that explain about academy schools, if Ms Todd would care to read them. They will help her to understand what is going on. The then Scottish Government’s proposed savings from the single force’s creation were predicated on VAT not being provided for: that is, they budgeted for it and went ahead anyway.

The debate is not at all about fairness. It is about the Scottish Government making a decision that it now regrets, and creating a narrative to the effect that if the UK Government will not change the entire tax system to sort out the Scottish Government’s mess, that is somehow unfair. [

Interruption

.] Then, in an utterly brass-necked move, it asks for all the money that has been paid since 2013 to be given back. That is money that it told the people of Scotland was budgeted for and costed, and would ultimately produce savings. It is an extraordinary piece of spin that is designed to distract from SNP failures.

The SNP is responsible for ensuring that our services have the resources that they need, but the SPF has warned that Police Scotland is becoming a response-only service; thousands of officers have been taken off the streets and lack of information technology is threatening the safety of officers and staff. Papers that have been circulated to senior fire service management say that the current model is not financially sustainable. Longer response times have been blamed on firefighter cuts and Audit Scotland has warned that the fire service faces a financial black hole.

Enough of the Westminster grievance. Let us remember the words of an SNP member at this year’s conference. She said:

“I am angry. Mr Matheson, this isn’t a Tory government in Scotland, this isn’t a Labour government in Scotland. This is my party in Scotland and you are letting down your officers.”

She is right. Sort it out.