Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP has demanded that the Treasury pay back £175 million taken from Scottish police and fire services.
The organisations became liable for VAT after merging from regional into national bodies in 2013 – though no other territorial police services in the UK had to pay.
The Scottish bodies paid £35 million a year in the tax since being created, but former Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in 2017 they would be made exempt. As of yet, the Tories have failed to refund the £175m taken out of the budgets of the Scottish emergency services.
Mr Yousaf said SNP MPs would push for the money to be repaid.
“A vote for the SNP offers an escape from Brexit and Tory austerity, and will put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.
“Under the SNP, police numbers are up by 1000, police officers have the best pay deal in the UK and recorded crime remains at one of the lowest levels ever seen.
“We’ve achieved all that despite the UK Government dipping their hands into the pockets of our emergency services – singling out Scottish police and fire services to unfairly face VAT bills.
“They eventually backed down – but have yet to repay the £175 million they pocketed.
“SNP MPs will hold the next UK government to account and demand that they pay back that money to our police and fire services.”
The Justice Secretary furthermore commented on the Tories’ empty election pledge with regard to policing.
“Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers in England and Wales doesn’t even cover the 21,000 the Tories have cut,” Yousaf added.
“If the UK Government is serious about tackling crime, they should follow the SNP’s lead and match our police numbers per head. Anything less is simply papering over the cracks caused by a decade of Tory austerity.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“This is an issue I have raised frequently at Holyrood. The Tories continue to short-change the people of Scotland on a range of issues due to their arrogance and incompetence.
“Scotland police and fire services were the only territorial forces in the UK to be charged VAT, costing frontline services millions of pounds.
“The UK Tory Government has happily squandered billions on a Brexit shambles of their own making and a pay-off for the DUP but refuse to refund punitive VAT charges which have needlessly deprived Scotland’s emergency services of extra resources.
“For example, nearly 2,000 new police officers in Scotland could be fully trained and deployed with the £175 million owed to our police and fire services..
“The damage being done to our essential public services by Tory austerity, cuts, and wasted funds continues. It’s time for the UK government to give Scotland what we are due.”