One of Scotland’s top lawyers has said he would consider moving to England due to tax cuts proposed in the chancellor’s mini-budget.
Roddy Dunlop KC, who holds the position of Dean of the Faculty of Advocates made the comments responding to a tweet which criticised the Scottish Government after the First Minister hinted that it was unlikely to match income tax cuts to the highest earners elsewhere in the UK.
Mr Dunlop said: “I’ve lived in Scotland all my days. I love this place. I do not want to leave. But if there is this level of tax difference, I’d have to consider it. Northumberland is nice, apparently.”
He added: “If you could live somewhere that taxed you at 60% or somewhere else within ten miles that taxed you at 10%, what would you choose? And in between these poles, there’s a point where you’d move.”
It comes amid concerns lower tax rates in England could see high-earners flee from Scotland.
Last week, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng set out the new Government’s financial plans in a mini-budget.
He cut stamp duty, income tax and announced new low-tax “investment zones” – but none of those apply to Scotland, where income tax rates and bands are decided by the Scottish Government.
Mr Dunlop said in theory that he could move across the border to Berwick and retain his job in Edinburgh, adding: “All I need to do is live 42 minutes away. I can work in exactly the same way, doing exactly the same thing, making exactly the same amount. But paying a lot less tax.”
The announcement of the biggest tax cuts in the UK for 50 years by the chancellor means that people earning more than £150,000 in Scotland pay income tax at 46% but this top rate has been scrapped in the rest of the UK.
Deputy first minister John Swinney has said the Scottish Government will “reflect carefully” on tax decisions announced by the chancellor – but insisted the approach will be based on “fairness”.
Swinney – who has taken on the finance brief while Kate Forbes is on maternity leave – said the tax cuts announced by Kwarteng on Friday will have “significant” consequences.
Speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, Swinney said: “We will reflect carefully on the announcements that were made by the UK Government on Friday.
“We take an approach to taxation which is driven by the principles of fairness and ensuring we have a progressive character to our tax system.”
He added: “I think it has to be clearly understood that there are some really significant and dangerous moments that we are facing just now.
“We are seeing the UK public finances in a very dangerous place on the back of the tax cuts on Friday.
“Borrowing is increasing, interest rates are rising, investor confidence is declining and the pound is collapsing in value.
“That’s what the Conservative changes on Friday have delivered for us as well as tax cuts that are benefiting the very wealthy in our society.”
It is estimated the Scottish Government will receive around £600m as a result of the tax cuts elsewhere in the UK.
But Swinney said that difficult decisions on how that money is spent will have to be made.