Rishi Sunak has branded Scotland “the high tax capital of the United Kingdom” as he accused the SNP of going in the opposite direction to the Tories.

He suggested the SNP could be contributing to child poverty with high tax rates.

In a noisy session of PMQs full of pre-election campaigning, the Prime Minister also accused Labour of pushing up tax on businesses in Wales.

SNP finance minister Shona Robison last month introduced a new tax band for high earners in her draft budget for 2024/25, increasing divergence with the rest of the UK.

The “advanced” band of Scottish income tax will be levied at 45p in the pound on earnings from £75,000 to £125,140, with the additional rate on earnings above that raised to 48p.

In addition, the threshold for paying the higher rate of Scottish income tax will remain frozen for a fourth year at £43,663 and be charged at 42p in the pound.

South of the border, the higher rate does not kick in until someone earns above £50,270, and is levied at a lower rate or 40p in the pound on all wages up to £125,140.

The UK higher rate threshold is due to remain frozen from 2021/22 until 2027/28.

Taking evidence on the Scottish budget this week, Holyrood’s finance committee heard a warning that cross-border tax differences could deter high earners from working in Scotland.

Mr Sunak’s comment could add to that impression.

It followed a supportive question from Tory MP Chris Clarkson, who said that “in Scotland the Nationalists have decided to increase taxes on hardworking people”, while in Labour-run Wales “businesses are being clobbered by a 5% increase on rates”.

He asked Mr Sunak if he agreed only the Tories could be trusted to cut taxes. 

The Prime Minister said his colleague was “absolutely right” and noted the cut in the main national insurance rate from 12 to 10% which kicked in UK-wide last weekend.

Mr Sunak said that would the average worker around £450 a year in NI.

He went on: “In Wales, where Labour is in charge, they're raising [taxes] with businesses now seeing double the rate of business rates this year.

“And it's the same in Scotland under the SNP. The new high tax capital of the United Kingdom because of the SNP’s tax hiking decisions. 

“So, Mr. Speaker, while we’ve got a plan and cutting your taxes, it's labour and the SNP that are going to raise them.”

Answering a question later about child poverty levels from SNP MP Stuart C MacDonald, Mr Sunak added: “The best way to make sure that children don't grow up in poverty, which no one wants to see, is to make sure that their parents are in work, and then to make sure that they can keep as much of their hard earned money as possible.

“Which is why I would urge the SNP to think again about their plans to make Scotland the highest tax part of the United Kingdom for an average worker.”

Under the Scottish Government's proposals for 2024/25, Scottish taxpayers earning below £28,850 will pay less income tax than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK, but only £23 less at most.

Above that, Scottish workers pay more, with those earning £50,000 paying around £1,500 more in income tax and those earning £150,000 paying almost £6,000 more than those south of the border.