General election 2024: Main Westminster parties campaigning in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – tax policies

It is hard to miss the coverage of Labour and Conservative tax policies. The announcements make headlines, naturally, as there is a good chance that they will convert to the policy of a new Government. But what about the parties who have never had a majority?

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Jane Duncan and Liz Hudson
Published: 28 Jun 2024 Updated: 28 Jun 2024
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These smaller parties are less likely to be able to implement their policies, but in the event of a coalition they could be important. We do also see tax policies first developed by smaller parties being taken up by the larger parties, so being aware of their current thinking can give a clue as to the direction of travel.

In this article, we focus on the key parties campaigning only in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein is not included as the MPs elected do not take up their seats in Westminster. These parties are running for seats in the UK Parliament, but focus on the needs of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland respectively. Their tax policies reflect this. Broadly, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are devolutionist, and the DUP promotes union, so has a wider focus.

Some taxes are devolved, but the rates of those are set by the Scottish and Welsh Governments, rather than the party members running for seats in the UK Government. These candidates, as reflected in the manifestos, intend to push the UK Government for broader changes, and in some cases to devolve more tax powers to national governments.

SNP tax policies

The Scottish National Party (SNP) published its manifesto [1], titled “A future made in Scotland” on Wednesday 19th July. As only some taxes are devolved, many of the plans for change to tax in Scotland require the UK Government to devolve additional powers to the Scottish Government before implementation.

The manifesto pledges on tax are to:

  • Demand an immediate emergency Budget following the General Election
  • Demand that the definition of worker is amended such that there is a single status for all but the “genuinely self-employed”. This seems to be a measure for employment rights, but could come with changes in tax treatment.
  • Call for a £175 million VAT refund to Scotland’s emergency services
  • Demand full devolution of tax powers, which would allow these pledges:
    • Ensure national insurance rates and thresholds fit with Scottish progressive income tax rates
    • Balance the windfall tax on excess profits across a wider set of companies
    • Crack down on tax avoidance and evasion
    • Improve tax transparency for international companies
    • With the devolution of road tax and fuel duty, develop a new approach to funding road travel
    • Reform VAT to address imbalances
    • End the VAT exemption for private schools (charitable rates relief has already been removed from private schools in Scotland)
    • Introduce a lower rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism
    • Address imbalance in VAT rates in the construction sector to encourage refurbishment and retrofitting of existing buildings
    • Remove VAT from on-street electric vehicle charging

Plaid Cymru tax policies

Plaid Cymru (PC) published its manifesto [2], titled “For fairness, for ambition, for Wales” on Thursday 13th June. It wants to see “the balance of the tax burden fall on those individuals and corporations with the broadest shoulders bearing a fairer share of overall tax paid”. The manifesto contains limited tax pledges, but includes commitments to campaign for the following:

  • Give the Welsh Government powers to set income tax bands and thresholds, as they do in Scotland
  • Increase windfall tax for energy companies, and “close loopholes
  • Equalise capital gains tax with income tax
  • Investigate increasing higher earners’ national insurance contributions
  • Support the introduction of a wealth tax
  • Increase the income tax personal allowance for pensioners in line with the triple lock
  • Tackle avoidance and evasion
  • Abolish “non-dom loopholes
  • Support the reform of non-domestic (business) rates
  • Charge VAT on private school fees
  • Remove the private school business rates exemption
  • Increase air passenger duty and kerosene tax for private jets

DUP tax policies

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) published its manifesto [3], titled “Speaking up for Northern Ireland” on Monday 24th June. It pledges to campaign to ensure taxation is fair.

DUP MPs will:

  • Encourage the Government to look into the advantages of having a single tax on income to replace income tax and national insurance
  • Oppose the freeze on the personal tax allowance and higher rate income tax threshold
  • Seek further reductions in national insurance
  • Support the personal allowance for pensioners staying above the amount of the state pension
  • Support an increase to the starting age for employee national insurance (
  • Keep business asset disposal relief
  • Uprate the employment allowance for national insurance in line with increases to the national living wage
  • Press the next Government to use the tax system to encourage businesses to build skills in employees
  • Replace the apprenticeship levy with one focussed on skills
  • Apply the high income child benefit charge on a household rather than an individual basis
  • Freeze vehicle excise duty and improve linkage of rates to road use in future
  • Keep the freeze on fuel duty
  • Oppose any rise in insurance premium tax to help motorists
  • Advocate for the abolition of domestic air passenger duty
  • Abolish VAT on domestic electricity bills
  • Scrap VAT on school uniforms
  • Increase the VAT threshold to £100,000 for small and medium sized enterprises, then increase it in line with inflation
  • Campaign for a cut to VAT for hospitality businesses in the UK
  • Use VAT to incentivise low-carbon and green technologies promoting improved productivity
  • Reduce UK corporation tax, and ultimately devolve it to NI so that it can have a lower rate, when issues with devolution are resolved
  • Increase the number of SMEs benefitting from tax reliefs
  • Promote awareness of capital allowances and R&D reliefs for local businesses
  • Expand R&D reliefs to include capital expenditure
  • Explore the possibility of an online sales tax targeting online corporates and marketplaces
  • Support efforts to combat tax evasion by global companies
  • Make farming more profitable, productive and attractive to the next generation, encouraging longer term leasing and rental arrangements through tax relief

Tax legislation

Tax legislation is that prevailing at the time, is subject to change without notice and depends on individual circumstances. You should always seek appropriate tax advice before making decisions. HMRC Tax Year 2024/25.

By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.