The Scottish Budget takes place today and I am clear that we need a Budget that promotes a fairer, more co-operative Scotland.  We need an end to austerity.

This Budget is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to create real change in our country.  The Scottish Government should look for ways to change the manner in which our economy is run.  They should look to democratise the economy and promote the co-operative model.

The Scottish Government should also send a clear message that we cannot continue to tolerate an economy where some people and organisations do not pay their way.  I support the Fair Tax Mark and I am calling on the Scottish Government to look at ways in which companies with the Fair Tax mark can be prioritised in public procurement.  No public funds should go to tax avoiders.

The Fair Tax Foundation recently carried out polling on attitudes to taxation. When it comes to public procurement, 7 in 10 (70%) Scots believe that the Government and local councils should consider a company’s ethics and how they pay their tax, as well as value for money and quality of service provided, when awarding contracts – with just 10% agreeing that contracts should be awarded regardless of ethics and tax conduct. Currently,tax conduct is rarely, if ever, factored into public procurement in a meaningful manner.

You cannot credibly say that you oppose austerity at the same time as tolerating companies that do not pay the appropriate rate of tax.

My Scottish Co-operative Party colleagues in local government have made clear to me the problems they face.  Independent research by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre backs this up and has shown that the Scottish Government has disproportionately targeted local government for cuts.

Our councils are at the forefront of the battle against austerity and we must recognise that investment in local government is an investment in our communities.  Councils can lead the way on battling austerity and protecting families and communities from its consequences.  I think that the Scottish Government should be delivering on its promises to promote Community Wealth Building.

We need to create a society and an economy that empowers people by giving them a real say in how the economy is run.  We need to create a society and economy which recognises that everyone and every organisation should pay its way and pay the appropriate level of tax at the right time in the right jurisdiction. 

We should create a society and economy that recognises that if we want a truly fair economy then we need a fair taxation system where people and organisations pay a level of tax which allows Scottish,UK and local government to invest in the services which our society so badly needs.