Why higher band Council Tax may be about to get clobbered by SNP – John McLellan

Edinburgh councillors must agree a budget today, so the unexpected extra £100 million from the UK Government which SNP interim Finance Secretary John Swinney said on Tuesday would mostly be passed onto councils will be too late for a re-think of plans to increase Council Tax by five per cent.
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But it could mean some cuts can be avoided, and much-needed programmes like city-wide street deep cleaning and de-weeding actioned. Meanwhile, the SNP tried a wheeze to fleece people they regard as better off, with a cunning plan to apply obscure legislation to create different Council Tax increases and hammer higher band properties.

The idea was to jack up the increase by much more than five per cent, but pay a rebate for owners of lower band properties through powers in 2003 Local Government Act which allows councils to do anything to “advance well-being” of people in its area. The legislation does not define well-being or rule out tax rebates, but it does say ministers can extend what well-being means, but only with parliamentary approval after consultation with local authorities.

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Technically possible perhaps, but it would be wide open to legal challenge and, by the time clarity was achieved, the council could be financially paralysed or bust. So now it appears they are having a hasty re-think. It was just a smart-assed stunt with headlines in mind, presuming it was likely to be rejected anyway because they’re not in control, but Council Tax payers be warned; hard-left SNP-Green ministers might like the idea.