ONCE again, it is the time of year when politicians at Westminster, Holyrood and in our local councils are thinking about budgets.

The UK Government’s budget was revealed by the Chancellor just a few weeks ago. It should be clear to anyone who has read about it that our contingent of Scottish Conservative and Unionist MPs in Westminster are delivering for Scotland.

They managed to secure a whisky duty freeze, support for North Sea oil and fisheries technology investment.

Additional investment by the UK Government will mean an additional £1billion for the Scottish Parliament that includes £550million extra as a result of a boost in health spending across the UK.

The average Scottish worker will also enjoy a £130 tax cut thanks to a further increase in the tax-free personal allowance.

Over a number of years, more and more people have been drawn into the higher tax band. These are not the wealthy. These are teachers, nurses and police officers.

The Chancellor announced that the Conservative UK Government will address this by increasing the rate at which people pay the higher rate from £46,350 to £50,000.

Since the devolution of income tax powers, however, there has been a divergence between the income tax rates that middle earners pay in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

The SNP failed to pass on the previous rise in this threshold and disappointingly look set to reject it again. This could make those affected £1,000 worse off relative to their counterparts in the rest of the UK.

As I have said before, this is exactly the wrong approach and will make Scotland a less attractive place for middle earners to live. As we now focus our attention to the Scottish budget, which is likely to be revealed in December, we need to keep in mind the need to grow our economy as we lag behind the rest of the UK.

The budget that was agreed between the SNP and the Greens last year was a disaster for jobs and for the economy. We cannot allow such a deal to be struck again.

We are clear that if the SNP demonstrate that they are serious about boosting economic growth through their budget proposals, we may be able to support them.

We would like to see a cut to Air Passenger Duty, which would benefit both Scots who travel but also boost the aviation sector in Scotland by allowing them to offer new long- and medium-haul destinations. In the past, the SNP have signalled that they support this move. We now want them to make good on that commitment.

Moreover, we would like to see significant support for our high streets, which are suffering as a result of the rapid expansion of on-line retailers.

While the tax on the technology giants announced by the Chancellor will help, the Scottish Government can and should take more actions to support our local businesses.

If they so choose, the SNP have a real opportunity to ditch the Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats to pass a pro-business budget with us. The ball is now in their court.