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Low-paid public-sector workers in Scotland still worse off than a decade ago

LOW-PAID public sector workers in Scotland will be offered a 3 per cent pay rise next year, but this will still leave them thousands of pounds worse off than a decade ago.

Delivering his draft Budget at Holyrood today, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also shelved the proposed “Amazon Tax” on out-of-town businesses. He also said there would be no increase for the top income tax threshold, in contrast to Philip Hammond’s announcement that the threshold for the 40p higher rate will go up to £50,000 in April.

Mr Mackay said he had “agreed” a 3 per cent increase for all state and local government employees earning £36,500 and below.

Those earning between £36,000 and £80,000 will have their pay rises “capped at 2 per cent,” while anyone earning above £80,000 will get an increase of no more than £1,600.

But public sector pay in Scotland declined by 14 per cent in real terms between 2009 and 2017, meaning workers’ pay packets will still effectively be thinner than a decade ago.

The Scottish TUC described the announcement as “disappointing,” arguing that “public workers are thousands of pounds poorer since 2010.”

Unions had gathered outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh today morning arguing for a full “restoration” in council funding.

Labour criticised Mr Mackay for failing to reverse the “rape clause” in child benefit, which caps claims to two children and forces rape victims to apply for special exemption.

The party’s finance spokesman James Kelly described the package as “yet another woeful SNP budget, letting the people of Scotland down,” and called for a “radical budget.”

Mr Mackay used his Budget speech to poke fun at the Conservative government in Westminster.

“For the benefit of the Tories and the chamber, this is a strong government — some might say strong and stable — doing its job, delivering for the people,” he said.

“The Scottish government can not completely protect Scotland from the recklessness of the British government, but the decisions was have taken in this Budget ensures we protect what matters most."

Mr Mackay said the health budget would go up by £500m in real terms and the local government settlement rise by £210m in real terms. A tax on second homes will rise from 3 per cent to 4 per cent in 2019.

Mr Mackay announced a below-inflation cap of 2.1 per cent on business rate increases for 2019-20.

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