RISHI Sunak has a “bit of a cheek” to criticise the prospect of income tax increases in Scotland, according to the Deputy First Minister.

Shona Robison (below), who is also Scottish Finance Secretary, accused the Prime Minister of putting electioneering ahead of public services in the recent autumn statement.

The National: Deputy FM Shona Robison makes a statement to the Scottish Parliament on October 31

Her comments came ahead of Tuesday’s Scottish budget, where Robison will outline the Government’s tax and spending plans for 2024-25.

The Government is facing calls to increase income tax for higher earners making £75,000 a year or more – something Robison has not ruled out.

Despite saying it had been “tough budget” to draw up, she insisted the Scottish Government had focused on public services.

“What we have done in those tough choices we have is to prioritise investment in public services,” Robison told reporters during a visit to a community cafe in Broxburn, West Lothian.

“That is something the UK Government has not done.

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“Our values, first and foremost, are about making sure we sustain our public services.”

She insisted the Scottish Government could not have followed the “real terms cut” in spending that the Tories had imposed on the NHS in England.

The autumn statement only provided an additional £10.8 million for the NHS In Scotland next year, Robison claimed.

The Scottish Government has come in for criticism for this claim with the Tories saying it is “misleading” because health spending is determined in Edinburgh and is not set by the UK Government.

Robison said the Tories’ cut in national insurance payments for workers was “pre-election positioning” and “entirely at the expense of public services”.

She added: “What I would say to Rishi Sunak is he has got a bit of a cheek, pitching up in Scotland to say anything given his autumn statement is deprioritising public spending.

“To have a real terms cut to the NHS in England is an astonishing position at a time when services are still recovering from Covid.

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“Clearly that’s not something we can follow and wouldn’t want to follow.”

Sunak, however, said his Government had provided a “record amount of funding” to ministers at Holyrood, adding that the Tories were “controlling spending and cutting people’s taxes” and that further tax rises in Scotland would be “very disappointing”.

Speaking to journalists during a visit to RAF Lossiemouth in Moray on Monday, the Prime Minister stressed: “The UK Government has provided a record amount of funding to the Scottish Government through the Barnett formula, so they’re ultimately responsible for the finances here in Scotland.

The National: Rishi Sunak

“But I can tell you what we’re doing in the UK is controlling spending and cutting people’s taxes and that’s going to kick in for everyone in Scotland and across the UK, a reduction in the rate of national insurance from 12% to 10% from January.

“That will save a typical person in work around £450 – it’s a significant tax cut.

“So, that’s what the UK Government is doing to help Scottish families with the cost of living, which we know is a priority for them.

“But ultimately, it’s the Scottish Government that are responsible for their own finances – it’s already the highest taxed part of the UK and obviously it would be very disappointing to see that tax burden continue to rise in Scotland.”

Scottish Tories claimed that changes in the income tax system already meant the majority of taxpayers in Scotland pay more than their counterparts south of the Border.

Analysis by the party indicated the median income in Scotland is now £29,675 – above the threshold of £27,850 at which income tax charges become higher than in the rest of the UK.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson Liz Smith said: “The median annual Scottish salary is almost £2000 above the threshold at which Scots workers pay more tax than they would south of the Border.”