Edinburgh council tax to rise

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COUNCIL tax bills in Edinburgh will rise for the first time in a decade after the city’s budget for the next 12 months were approved.

The three per cent rise will see Band D council tax increase by £35.07 to £1204.07 from April.

Council tax will rise in Edinburgh by 3 per cent

Council tax will rise in Edinburgh by 3 per cent

Council house rents - already the highest in Scotland - will also be hiked by two per cent.

And despite a late £10 million easing in Scottish Government budget cuts, a planned reduction in library hours across the city will go ahead.

But the council’s Labour-SNP administration signalled it could be ready to think again on a rise of around four per cent on school meals.

The council’s funding from the Scottish Government for next year is £27.1m less than for 2016/17, but Scotland-wide changes in higher band council tax will bring Edinburgh £16.1m and the decision to increase council tax will produce a further £7m.

The council heard deputations appeal for a rethink on several proposed measures.

Betty Stevenson of Edinburgh Tenants Federation said the Capital already had the highest local authority rents in Scotland.

“We don’t think a two per cent rent rise is affordable for the working poor of Edinburgh who will also have to fork out for a three per cent council tax increase.”

Alison Thornton, Edinburgh secretary of the EIS teaching union, said although school meals were free for P1-3 pupils and means-tested for older children, there were many families just above the cut-off point who faced a day to day struggle to manage financially.

“The meal at school might be the only hot and regular meal they get. What may seem a small increase in cost can be the difference between a parent being able to pay for school meals or not.”

Tom Connolly from Unison said 1400 jobs had already been lost at the council. “Staff are reaching breaking point. They are finding themselves overstretched. Services are becoming too lean and too fragile.”

Finance convener Alasdair Rankin said the council tax rise was necessary to “protect council services and help manage rising demand for services”.

And he said the rent rise was required to fund investment. But he said the question of the school meal rises was “still open”

The extra £10m which the council was allocated just last week under a deal between the Greens and SNP at Holyrood will be directed to road and pavement repairs, building maintenance, recycling, early years, homelessness prevention and libraries.

But culture convener Richard Lewis said it was too late to reverse the library hours cuts because staff had already taken voluntary redundancy.

Conservatives said they would halt the roll-out of the 20mph speed limit, seek to reopen public loos, put more money into festive lights and use cash earmarked for trams to fund traffic improvements.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com

Current (New)

A: £779.33 (£802.71)

B: £909.22 (£936.50)

C: £1039.11 (£1070.28)

D: £1169 (£1204.07)

E: £1428.78 (£1582.01)

F: £1688.56 (£1956.61)

G: £1948.43 (£2357.97)

H: £2338 (£2949.97)