MSPs have voted on income-tax rates and bands in Scotland for the first-time ever, with Holyrood opting to freeze the point at which the higher 40p tax rate kicks in.
SNP Support Up Despite 'Poor' Rating
Support for the SNP continues to rise, despite some Scots rating their performance in key areas as "poor'', a new poll has suggested.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of those who expressed a preference said they are planning to vote SNP in the constituency section of next year's Holyrood election, up two points from the previous month, according to the latest TNS poll.
A total of 54% said they will back Nicola Sturgeon's party in the regional section of the ballot, an increase of three points.
The research, which was carried out between July 10 and August 3, gives the SNP a massive 42-point lead over Labour in the constituency ballot after its support remained unchanged at 20%.
The regional poll showed a slight drop in Labour's vote, down by one point to 20% - 34 points behind the SNP.
On key areas such as the economy, crime and justice and the NHS, a third of Scots said the SNP Government is doing a good job.
Almost three out of 10 (29%) people ranked the Government's performance as "poor'' on both health and crime and justice, with a third (34%) and less than a quarter (23%) believing ministers are doing a good job in these areas respectively.
When it comes to the crucial issue of the economy, 25% said the Scottish Government is doing well, with almost the same proportion (24%) branding the SNP's handling of the area "poor''.
Almost a fifth (19%) of voters are unhappy with how the Government has dealt with education, compared to 30% who ranked performance as ``good''.
Tom Costley, head of TNS Scotland, said: "It is interesting that the SNP has such a strong lead in voting intentions for the Scottish Parliament while only a third or fewer of voters view its performance in the past year in a positive light.
"This poll suggests that the opposition parties may find voters ready to listen to their alternative policies, although with Labour still engaged in leadership elections at Scottish and UK level, the SNP's chief rival in Scotland is not yet ready to present a programme to the electorate.''
Mr Costley continued: "The SNP's position may be largely due to the positive mood surrounding its strong performance in the referendum and general election. But there has been extensive media reporting of problems on devolved issues, especially in the NHS and around the new unified Police Scotland.
"The SNP now has an opportunity to build the case for its record in government before the Holyrood election campaign gets properly under way towards the end of this year.''
A total of 1,029 people aged 16 or over were questioned by TNS for the research, which also showed small drops in support for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the run up to May's Holyrood election.
In the constituency section of the ballot, support for the Tories was down by two points to 12%, with the Lib Dems falling the same amount to 3%.
Conservative support was also at 12% on the regional ballot, a drop of one point, ahead of the Liberal Democrats whose support also fell by one point to 4%. In contrast, the Greens saw support rise by one point to 8%.
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