Scotland’s growing tax divergence with the rest of the UK is “the result of Green pressure,” the party’s co-convenor has said.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Patrick Harvie said the new measures would raise a “billion and a half pounds every year in the Scottish budget for public services and investment.”

Last month, Shona Robison set out her tax and spending plans for the next financial year, including a new 45% rate which will see Scots earning between £75,000 and £125,140 pay up to £5,231.81 more than someone on the same salary in other parts of the UK in 2024/25.

There was also a hike in the top rate of tax from 47p to 48p in the pound.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation said the changes meant people in Scotland earning below £28,627 would be at best £23.06 better off than their counterparts south of the border.

However, that could be “eroded” if Chancellor Jeremy Hunt cuts income tax in March’s Spring budget.

READ MORE: New tax divergence fears as Sunak eyes pre-election giveaways

Mr Harvie’s comments on the tax changes came as he defended his party’s decision to back the budget, despite concerns over the council tax freeze, announced by Humza Yousaf at SNP conference last October.

Although they are part of the government, the Greens only found out about the plan shortly before it was announced.

Scottish Green members later passed a motion at their conference criticising the decision, saying it was a breach of the Bute House Agreement and had damaged trust and undermined attempts to treat local government with greater respect.

Asked about the council tax freeze, Mr Harvie said: “Well, there's no secret of the fact that we weren't best pleased about that announcement. It was an announcement made at SNP party conference, so it was one made at a party political level.

“And I think some of the reactions to that, you know, even within the SNP, we're not wholly ecstatic. We made our position pretty clear at our party conference.”

Asked why he would still back the budget despite not being best pleased, Mr Harvie said there were elements which he and his colleagues were enthusiastic about.

He said these included “the most substantial investment in climate and nature that Scotland's ever seen.”

The Active Travel Minister also defended his party's involvement in the government, despite a growing number of disagreements with the SNP.

“The Bute House Agreement creates the opportunity for a solid policy program that allows us to push the Scottish Government sometimes out of its comfort zone, and that's what we've always done.

“It's very consistent with our approach which is to be constructive and challenging, not to demand the impossible but to show how things can be done for the better.

“The reason, for example, that Scotland has more progressive tax on income tax, is the result of Green pressure.

“It took us years in opposition years to build the case for beginning that journey toward more progressive tax and that's the reason there's an extra billion and a half pounds every year in the Scottish budget for public services and investment.

“Now as part of the Government, we're able to get in the in mix of every part of the Government's program and bring Green influence to bear and I think that massive investment in climate and nature we've never seen before is a really good example of that.”