Ellie Ames 20 September 2023

Calls to scrap council tax hike as consultation closes

Calls to scrap council tax hike as consultation closes image
Image: cornfield / Shutterstock.com

Councils should have complete control over their local tax, thinktank Reform Scotland has said in response to plans to increase council tax across Scotland.

The thinktank called the consultation on the tax hikes, which closes today, ‘effectively pointless’.

The Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) have been consulting on increasing tax for bands E, F, G and H by between 7.5% and 22.5%.

Reform Scotland research director Alison Payne said: ‘The replacement of council tax with a fairer, localised, bespoke set of local taxes has been talked about by most political parties for most of the era of devolution.

‘Why, when those parties are in power, do they do little about it, instead issuing consultations which are effectively pointless?’

Councils should be able to control the rates, bands and form of local tax, she said, allowing them to ‘retain, reform or replace council tax with another form of local taxation, such as a land value tax’.

Yesterday, the Scottish parliament debated the proposed tax increase in a motion submitted by Scottish Liberal Democrats’ economy spokesman Willie Rennie.

Ahead of the debate, Mr Rennie said: ‘It’s 16 years since the SNP solemnly promised in their manifesto to abolish and replace council tax.’

He said the SNP Government had transformed from ‘reformers to defenders of the unfair, discredited council tax’, which it was now hiking ‘with the biggest rises ever’.

‘These tax hikes must be scrapped’, Mr Rennie added.

Public finance minister Tom Arthur said: ‘The potential changes to council tax would only affect around a quarter of properties and, even after they are taken into account, average council tax in Scotland would still be less than anywhere else in the UK.

‘Many people are struggling with their finances and our council tax reduction scheme is there to ensure nobody has to pay a council tax bill they cannot be expected to afford, regardless of what band they are in.’

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