Intense SNP pressure on the UK government has paid off for Scotland’s emergency services after the Chancellor finally backed down to allow Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue to reclaim VAT after years of unfairness.
Scotland’s emergency services had been the only territorial forces in the UK unable to reclaim VAT – which costs the forces £35 million annually. While the overdue reversal is welcomed by the SNP, the refusal to repay the £140 million already paid by Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue means the Tories continue to short-change Glasgow's emergency services.
James has criticised the UK government for this betrayal of Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland – and is calling on them to give Scotland the £140 million we are owed to help bolster police and fire services in the Cathcart constituency and across the whole of Scotland.
Commenting, James said:
“We of course welcome the news that the UK government will no longer unfairly take £35 million from our Police and Fire budgets every year – and constant pressure from the SNP on this issue has made this win possible.
“However, the Chancellor does not go nearly far enough – and his refusal to refund the money Scotland has already paid shows how little the Tories care about Glasgow's emergency services.
“If they finally agree that it is unfair for Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue to pay VAT, how can they possibly justify keeping the money they have already taken?
“The £140 million owed to Scotland’s emergency services is a drop in the ocean compared to the £1 billion the Tories threw to the DUP to prop up a weak and wobbly Prime Minister and government.
“The Chancellor has come up short in his commitment to Glasgow's police and fire services. The refusal to repay the £140 million we are owed is simply yet another Tory betrayal of Scotland – and proves just how useless the band of Scottish Tory MPs really are.”