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First Milk meets Border region's dairy farmers

Some dairy farmers' milk payments were withheld. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Dairy farmers from the Border region will today meet representatives from First Milk, the co-operative owned by British farmers.

Last Monday the group announced that payment to around 1,000 milk suppliers would be delayed for two weeks, because of falling prices.

Now, First Milk will meet member farmers in Carlisle to explain why their payment was withheld.

Businesses to hear of Borders Railway benefits

The Borders Railway will open in September. Credit: ITV Border

Businesses have been invited to a meeting to hear about the potential economic benefits of the new Borders Railway.

The meeting takes place in Galashiels today, and it's being held by Abellio, the company that will operate the railway when it opens in September.

Around The House: Tonight at 10.40pm (or 11.10pm Freeview South Scotland)

Around The House at 10.40pm on ITV, and 11.10pm on Freeview in the South of Scotland Credit: ITV Border

Paul Brand presents this month's political programme from Westminster.

Scotland's only Conservative MP - Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale's David Mundell - is among the guests to discuss the ups and downs of the election campaign so far.

Also in the programme; how much money do we need to earn, to be able to have a decent life?

Join Paul Brand for Around The House tonight (Thurs 22 January) at the new earlier time of 10.40pm on ITV, or at 11.10pm - after Representing Border - if you are watching on Freeview in the South of Scotland.

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What you need to know

The Land and Building Transaction Tax will replace UK Stamp Duty in Scotland Credit: PA

The basics: Today, John Swinney announced changes to the rates in his proposed Land and Building Transaction tax .

This tax will replace Stamp Duty in Scotland from April 1 and the plans were first announced in October.

Why the changes? John Swinney changed the details outlined for the tax after George Osborne's autumn statement.

The Chancellor's plans left people buying property at the higher end of the market in Scotland paying much more than their counterparts in England.

So what do the changes mean?

The new tax will be different from stamp duty in that:

  • Scotland will have a higher threshold before tax is paid. Under UK Stamp Duty, the threshold is £125,000. However, under Mr Swinney's new proposals, the threshold in Scotland will be £145,000
  • Buyers at the top end of the market will still pay more than those in England. Properties in Scotland over £750,000 will face the the top rate of tax - 12%. In England, this rate only applies to properties over £1.5 million.

It will be different than the plans proposed in October:

  • The rate of tax proposed for properties worth between £250,000 and £350,000 has reduced. Under October proposals, the rate was 10%. Under the rates announced today, this has halved to 5%.

New rates for property tax announced

Mr Swinney announced the changes during a Budget Bill Debate Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Today, the Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney announced new rates for property tax in Scotland.

The new rates will form the Land and Building Transaction Tax that will replace Stamp Duty from April 1.

They are as follows:

  • No tax up to £145, 000
  • 2% from £145,000 - £250, 000
  • 5 % from £250,000 - £325, 000
  • 10% from £325,000 - £750,000
  • 12% from £750,000 plus

These are marginal rates and only the proportion of the price above each threshold will be taxed at the next rate.

According to Mr Swinney, 90 percent of transactions in Scotland - which all fall in brackets below £330,000 - will either pay less tax on their new homes, or the same as they would under current rates of UK Stamp Duty.

The changes have come in response to an overhaul of the UK stamp duty system announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

Finance Secretary to announce changes to Scottish stamp duty plans

Finance Secretary John Swinney will announce to the proposed new tax rates today Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Finance Secretary John Swinney will announce changes to the proposed new tax rates for buying a home when the Budget is debated at Holyrood today.

Mr Swinney announced at the weekend that he would reconsider the bands and rates for the new devolved Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) set out in October's draft 2015-16 Budget.

The levy will replace stamp duty in Scotland from April.

It has been branded a "tax on aspiration" by the Conservatives who have criticised it for imposing higher rates on properties at the top end of the market.

They wants to see the proposed 10% rate on homes between £250,000 and £500,000 halved as they claim it will hit middle-income families.

The review follows an overhaul of the UK stamp duty system announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement Credit: PA

Mr Swinney's review follows an overhaul of the UK stamp duty system announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

The Finance Secretary said that at the time of his original proposals, 90% of homebuyers would have been better or no worse off in the new Scottish system, but this has now dropped to 80%.

Under the current plans, someone buying a home worth £350,000 would pay £12,300 under LBTT, compared with £7,500 under the stamp duty system.

Mr Swinney will announce the conclusions of his review to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament before a Stage 1 debate on the Budget Bill.

Speaking ahead of the debate, he also reaffirmed the Scottish Government's commitment to increased funding of the NHS.

"Spending on Scotland's health service will increase in real terms next year, taking Scottish health spending above #12 billion for the first time. "The overall increase of #380 million in health resource spending will take the total health budget to record levels.

"The Scottish Government's commitment to increase the NHS budget demonstrates a continuing commitment to protecting the health service, and keep it in public hands."

– John Swinney, Scottish Finance Secretary
Will Rennie will use the debate to call for the NHS, mental health, Childcare and colleges to be put at the heart of the budget Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will use the debate to call for the NHS, mental health, childcare and colleges to be put at the heart of the Budget.

He has written to Mr Swinney setting out the party's proposals, which include emergency funding for the NHS, equal treatment of mental and physical health and extending free childcare provision to more two-year-olds.

The party also wants "fairer" funding for colleges and for the threshold for the repayment of student loans to be raised.

"Our hopes for the 2015-16 Budget centre around proposals that will help build a stronger economy and a fairer society. Importantly they are about providing opportunity for everyone to get on in life."

– Will Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

New office opening 'great news'

Jamie Reed was among those who attended the opening of the new Westlake office Credit: Vanessa Jane Photography.

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has opened its new Westlakes office, Pillar House.

The office, at the Westlakes Science Park near Whitehaven, can accommodate 180 employees, and 159 have already moved in.

Jamie Reed attended the opening, and described the office as great news for West Cumbria.

“The opening of the new Jacobs office is a clear commitment to the region and presents great opportunity.

"The new office will be home to many graduates, apprentices and trainees.

"This new investment, the new facilities and the support for young people is great news for West Cumbria.”

– Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland

Jacobs has 600 employees based across Cumbria.

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