Rightly or wrongly, the 2014 independence referendum has created a binary discourse in Scotland that leaves little room for nuance. For many, especially in the darker corners of Twitter, you’re either a yoon or a nat. No compromise is permitted. No quarter given.

That discourse serves to narrow the debate within and outside government and builds an assumption that little progress, if any, can be made in creating a fairer, more equal country without either the ‘full powers of independence’ or the ‘strength of the union’ being at the epicentre.

To a limited extent devolution has a good story to tell. The Scottish Child Payment and the baby box are recent examples of achievements that have been delivered through devolution. Past achievements such as the abolition of prescription charges and free tuition also stand out as evidence of a social contract approach to governance in Scotland.

But sadly, such interventions are the exception rather than the rule. They have been delivered at the same time as the Scottish Government can at best boast of a marginally more progressive income taxation system than in the rest of the UK. We also pay on average £600 less per year Council Tax than in England. The question therefore arises. How are we paying for these welcome policies?

READ MORE: Lord Haughey: Scotland's rising debt and lack of growth is alarming

For opposition parties the answer is as easy as it is unconvincing. They support the retention of some or all of these measures but also moan about tax levels in Scotland.

And whilst the politicians bicker, Rome burns. Earlier this week, COSLA warned that councils in Scotland face the real prospect of going bankrupt. This follows similar moves from Nottingham and Birmingham City Councils.

We’ve already heard the mood music coming out of St Andrew’s House. That public service worker job cuts are on the table. That, according to the Deputy First Minister, our public sector must shrink to fit the fiscal envelope imposed on us by the UK Government.

We are the first to recognise that Westminster austerity is disastrous for Scotland as it is for the whole of the UK. We recognise too that, the powers of the Scottish Parliament to combat this imposed austerity are limited.

Limited, but not negligible. To present cuts to vital services as the only game in town is, frankly, a falsehood.

There is an alternative, and in an attempt to empower the Scottish Government to recognise their agency, take the right path and not just resort to blaming the Tory bogeyman, we are suggesting bold action to avert the public service crisis.

Our new 2023 tax report: ‘Raising taxes to deliver for Scotland’ sets out how the Scottish Government can raise £3.7 billion worth of additional resources by April 2028. This includes £1.1 billion of desperately needed funds that can be created as early as next April.

Our report clearly shifts the debate from whether there is a lack of powers, or a lack of political will.

It is simply not the case that public services in Scotland must bear the brunt of the Chancellor’s autumn statement. Our tax paper shows that, £1.1 billion funds the retention of 24,000 public sector workers. £3.7 billion would fund 82,000. Of course, its not just about the workers, important and deserving though they are, it’s about the services they provide.

READ MORE: Heat pumps are the answer for cosy homes

Our paper is also part of a wider and growing discourse on tax reform, one which is supported across civil society organisations and among our leading think tanks, that argues for deeper and more meaningful change. There is a growing understanding, amongst it seems, all but the political class, that we need wholesale reform that shifts the burden of taxation from wages to assets and property.

Central to this is ridding ourselves of the outdated and regressive council tax and its replacement with a proportional property tax.

The last time we had a rates re-evaluation in Scotland was 1991. Property prices have risen exponentially and unevenly across country, yet we are still paying taxes based on relative property values from the year when John Major was Prime Minister and there was still a Soviet Union.

More than this, it’s simply not that good a revenue raiser. Only 19% of councils’ revenue comes from the Council Tax. If Council Tax bills had risen by the same percentage amount in Scotland as in England over the last 25 years, councils in Scotland would have had an extra £1.7 billion to spend on services in 2022/23.

This ‘Council Tax Gap’ has largely been paid for by increased charges and cuts. A Proportional Property Tax levied at 0.7% not only raises £783 million but also gives the most hard-pressed folk a rebate. STUC estimates show that not only does this target wealth and property more equitably, but it can also raise far more revenue for local government in a fairer way.

This is before we get into the more ‘creative’ ways the Scottish Government can raise revenue. We can raise £50 million from a frequent flyer levy, targeting those who undermine our net-zero targets. Added to this, £25 million can be found from a super tax on private jets for the 10,000 private flights that depart Scotland every year. There are many people throughout our communities struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Those in private jets aren’t among them.

READ MORE: Oh, no, Frasier. Why does Trump appeal to people like Kelsey Grammer?

This brings me back to my central point: our tax report is about helping those most in need through the creation of outstanding public services.

If we want to give our children the best start in life, with well-paid teachers working in world-class schools, it’s there for us. If we want to ensure our parents and relatives get the care they need within our NHS from our outstanding healthcare workforce, it’s there for us.

If we endeavour, as we certainly do, to have our local government workforce – the cleansing workers, pothole fixers and social service heroes of our councils – to be well rewarded and fully staffed, it’s there for us.

All that remains is for the politicians to stand up and be there for us too. Our tax report has opened the door for them. They just need to walk through it.

Roz Foyer is  General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress