​Your business-friendly SNP? - John McLellan

City finance officials, facing the need to save £11.9m, and a real terms reduction of £10m in the grant from the Scottish Government, are dangling the benefit of ignoring First Minister Humza Yousaf’s surprise council tax freeze before today’s finance committee.
First Minister Humza Yousaf  (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)First Minister Humza Yousaf  (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
First Minister Humza Yousaf (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

​Citing a Scottish Government funding settlement which is “less favourable than the Scotland-wide average”, officers point out the SNP-Green government’s compensation for the freeze is £1.4m below what a five per cent council tax increase would have raised, the basis for the payment.

As the only penalty for snubbing Mr Yousaf’s block would be to lose the compensation, officers have pointed out the benefit of introducing the rise, and that a six per cent hike would raise a further £3.5m, a total gain of £4.9m

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It will be tempting, given £3.6m has just been found down the back of the council sofa to increase the grant to Edinburgh Leisure, to stave off swim centre closures and pay all staff the real living wage

But what voters would make of a Labour-led administration introducing a six per cent tax increase when the SNP had announced a freeze doesn’t take much imagination, so as a general election looms, no-one should expect councillors to take up the suggestion when the annual council budget is set next month.

Not so fortunate are the city’s larger businesses which can’t avoid a 6.7 per cent hike in their supplementary business rates, adding around £10,000 to the bill for large city centre shops. So much for the new business-friendly SNP.

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