Humza Yousaf has defended the tax hikes announced in Tuesday’s budget, saying that while the top 5% of earners in Scotland will pay more than in the rest of the UK, they will “get more for it.”

In an at times bad-tempered session of First Minister’s Questions, the SNP leader was branded “high tax Humza” by Douglas Ross and described as “out of touch” by Anas Sarwar over the changes, due to come in next April. 

He bit accusing the two men of not being serious. 

READ MORE: Anger as Scottish budget widens cross-border tax gap and cuts services

Under the plans, announced by Finance Secretary Shona Robison, the Scottish Government will bring in a sixth Scottish income tax band covering earnings between £75,000 and £125,140.

She also announced her intention to hike the top rate threshold from 47% of 48%.  The Chartered Institute of Taxation said the changes meant people in Scotland earning below £28,627 would be at best £23 better off than their counterparts south of the border.

Above that they would pay progressively more, with someone in Scotland earning £50,000 paying £1,542 more income tax than their English and Welsh, while someone on £125,000 would pay £5,230 more.

During the session, Mr Ross asked if the First Minister believed it was “fair” that the majority of Scots pay more in tax.

Mr Yousaf insisted the majority will pay less tax – “no ifs, no buts, no maybes about it”.

He added the Scottish Budget was “about values.”

The Tory leader then shared concerns from BMA Scotland chairman Dr Iain Kennedy, who warned that the new tax band for higher earners could have “unintended consequences” for senior medics, and may push them “out of the NHS to jobs elsewhere or retirement — or force them to cut overtime.”

Mr Ross went on to ask why the government had not passed on consequentials from the Chancellor's decision to extend rates relief for hospitality firms south of the border.

"It beggars belief that the Scottish Government has once again failed to pass on the 75% relief for retail seen elsewhere in the UK,” he said. “So, First Minister, why are the SNP putting Scottish businesses at a disadvantage?" 

Mr Yousaf said the government had chosen to spend the money, around £230m, in other areas.

"He demands we spend every single penny of UK Government consequentials on business relief and tax cuts," he said. "If we had done that, we would have seen real terms cuts to the NHS real time cuts to education, real time cuts to the police service, real time cuts to the fire service. We simply won't choose to do that."

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In his questions to the First Minister, Mr Sarwar described the budget as the “most devastating in the history of devolution.”

The Labour leader said Mr Yousaf was “not a serious politician" and  "so out of touch."

"He thinks if you earn almost £29,000, you should pay more taxes in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. 

"These are not the people with the broadest shoulders, but they're being forced to pay the price for his failures in the middle of a cost of living crisis."

The Labour leader said 2023 will be "remembered as the year when the SNP were found out.” 

“They have broken the NHS, they have broken the justice system. They have broken the housing system. They have broken the public finances. They have broken the public's trust, and they seem to have broken their party in the process."

Mr Yousaf said it was, in fact, Mr Sarwar who was not a "serious politician." 

"He comes here demanding more money for public services but opposes every single revenue raising power and policy that we bring to this parliament."

"He doesn't think for himself. He waits until he gets the memo from head office,” he added.

“I don’t know if Anas Sarwar has sent his letter to Santa but if not, he should ask for a backbone.”