Edinburgh Council joins campaign for more tax powers

Edinburgh Council has flagged a tourism tax as an area of interest. File picture: Andrew O'Brien
Edinburgh Council has flagged a tourism tax as an area of interest. File picture: Andrew O'Brien
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EDINBURGH today joined with Scotland’s six other cities to call for new tax powers to be handed to local councils.

They highlighted a tourism tax, non-domestic rates and a share of income tax, property tax, climate change levy and air passenger duty as “priority areas” for discussion.

And they also floated the idea of congestion charges - which would be for local decision - along with a possible share of VAT and betting and gaming duties.

Their report, Empowering Scotland’s Cities, argued localisation of taxes would allow cities and regions to create more sustainable public finances.

It called for a bigger say on migration policy, in the context of supporting higher and further education, and on new welfare powers health and social care policy.

The report said Scottish cities faced a challenge from their English counterparts who are “gaining a competitive advantage” as a result of City Region and Devolution deals.

The Scottish cities - Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling - are calling for a meeting to discuss their proposals with both the Scottish and UK Governments at the earliest opportunity.

They say they want a “New Deal” which would allow local decision-making to flourish and city councils to maximise their strengths of local knowledge and civic leadership, bringing greater local accountability.

Edinburgh council leader Andrew Burns said: “Scotland’s seven cities are committed to driving forward economic growth, so we can continue to promote ourselves on the international stage as attractive, modern places to invest and to carry out business with.

“The important research we have commissioned suggests that a new partnership is required if we are to reach our economic potential and meet the significant challenges that lie ahead.

“Fundamental to this new approach are a number of shared objectives which include improving connectivity and infrastructure, setting a diverse tax system across Scotland, improving our communities and a radical change to economic development.

“We firmly believe that by embracing these key changes we can ensure Scotland can compete economically with other cities close to home and globally.”

Councillor Burns said he also wanted cities to be given a strategic role in directing investments to cities and city regions.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com