UPDATE – Last Minute Talks At Holyrood As SNP Seal Budget Deal With Greens

Just hours before MSPs vote on the SNP budget, a deal has been struck with the Green Party for support of the government’s budget.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay spent earlier today negotiating with opposition parties in a bid to find much needed support for his budget plans, which will include major changes to tax.

Mr Mackay has said his budget would provide, “stability, sustainability and stimulus” for the Scottish economy and services.

The Green Party said they were willing to make a deal if there was, “significant amendments to the budget as it stands”.

As a minority government, the SNP needs at least one opposition party to at least abstain to get its budget plans through Holyrood.

Mr Mackay was quick to dismiss any potential deal with the Scottish Conservatives or Labour, calling Labour’s budget proposals ridiculous and unworthy of consideration.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems are pursuing funding for education and mental health, along with support for ferry services in the northern isles.

Leader Willie Rennie said the budget “needs to do more to meet the long-term needs of the economy”.

Currently Scotland has three income tax bands – a 20p basic rate, a 40p higher rate beginning at £43,001 and a 45p additional rate for earnings over £150,000.

Mr Mackay has suggested redrawing the system by adding a 19p “starter” rate and a 21p intermediate rate, while adding 1p to the higher and additional rates, creating a five-band system which would see many Scots actually pay less tax than they do now.

This would raise an extra £164m. This rising to £366m when combined with threshold changes from previous years.

UPDATE: The SNP have reached a deal with the Scottish Green Party, in exchange for a ”substantial package” of funding towards extra cash for councils and better pay settlements for workers in the public sector.

Mr Mackay will inform MSPs of the details of the deal at Holyrood later today.

Follow the Budget debate at 2.40pm today at Holyrood – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-42858908

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