SNP tax changes to hit 40 per cent of Edinburgh households

Nicola Sturgeon outlined her plans for local taxation during a visit to Lasswade High School. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Nicola Sturgeon outlined her plans for local taxation during a visit to Lasswade High School. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
39
Have your say

NEARLY four out of ten Capital households will pay more council tax under SNP reforms.

People in the top four bands will shoulder a bigger share of the burden, while the bottom four bands remain untouched. Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the details as she visited Lasswade High School yesterday.

Nearly 84,000 households in Edinburgh – 37.7 per cent of the total – will have to pay more.

The council tax reduction scheme will be expanded to help people in the affected bands who have incomes under £25,000.

But there are no extra bands being added to take account of the poshest homes. And there will be no revaluation, leaving the bands based on 1991 prices.Ms Sturgeon also announced the council tax freeze would end after 2016-17 but any rise decided by councils will be capped at three per cent. Such an increase would add £35 a year to a Band D bill in the Capital.

City council leader Andrew Burns was at the forefront of the attacks on the Scottish Government over this year’s council tax settlement, accusing Finance Secretary John Swinney of holding “a shotgun at my head”.

Ms Sturgeon said the band changes would raise an extra £100m per year across Scotland. “We intend to work with local authorities to ensure this is invested directly in schools,” she said.

But opposition parties criticised the SNP’s plans. Scottish Labour leader and Lothian MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “The SNP won two elections with a clear promise to abolish the council tax, but they have broken that promise.”

Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie called the reforms timid. He said: “It is utterly insulting for the SNP to bring forward a policy that they have had the power to bring in for nine years.”

And Andy Wightman, Lothian Green candidate at the Holyrood elections, said the council tax was discredited and must be scrapped. He said: “The Scottish Government has endorsed a regressive tax structure in clear contradiction to their claims to want to be progressive with tax powers. Without a re-evaluation of property values, the council tax is a nonsense.”

Edinburgh Southern Tory candidate Miles Briggs claimed the Capital would be disproportionately affected by the SNP reforms. He said: “Edinburgh households already pay one of the highest council tax levels in Scotland. This marks the end of the SNP ever being able to pretend that they are trying to protect hard-pressed family budgets.”

Property experts ESPC said the tax increase in bands E to H would affect a larger proportion of homeowners in Edinburgh than most other places.

But a spokeswoman said: “These changes seem to be relatively low-level and we don’t anticipate it having a material impact on the property market.

“However, it provides another piece of uncertainty for home-owners and potential buyers. Already this year we are seeing a new three per cent tax on second homes, there is the Scottish Parliament election in May, the European referendum in June, and the possibility of rent control being introduced.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com