The AK Bell Library in Perth city centre hosted a meeting of Solidarity, Scotland’s Socialist Movement on Tuesday, March 8th.
The main speaker was Bill Mair, who is the lead parliamentary candidate for Mid-Scotland & Fife.
Also speaking was Jock Penman, regional organiser for the party and candidate. The meeting was chaired by Colin Cuthbert, also a candidate.
Mr Mair focused on three things: Solidarity’s anti-austerity policies; anti-oppression, which demands equality for all, regardless of creed, colour, sexuality, religion, gender, etc., and the Scottish Service Tax (SST), an income-based alternative to the council tax.
He said that under SST, first tabled by Tommy Sheridan as a Private Member’s Bill in 2006, pensioners and the low-paid would be completely exempt, most people would pay less than at present, some would pay the same but the rich would pay more.
This topic generated enthusiastic comment from the audience, especially when Mr Mair gave some examples, explaining that all income up to £14,000 per person would be exempt, so that someone earning £16,000 and living in a band A flat would pay only £80 instead of £772 at present. Even a couple with a comfortable income, earning £30K and £35, living in a band F house, currently paying £1,672.67 council tax would pay less: £1,400 between them.
The punchline came when Mr Mair pointed out that according to the Scottish Parliament’s own figures, updated from 2006, the SST would generate £735 million extra revenue for councils across Scotland: more than twice the current total funding shortfall for Scottish local authorities.
Mr Mair said:
“Tommy Sheridan’s Scottish Service Tax proposal has never been more relevant. Across Scotland councils are shedding thousands of jobs, closing libraries and reducing services. Our SST proposal would generate more than twice the amount needed to bridge the councils’ budget shortfall. We could realistically be recruiting staff and building new libraries, etc, instead of throwing thousands onto the unemployment register and cutting services to the vulnerable. And it is a fairer system: the poor pay nothing, and most people pay less.”