Kezia Dugdale: This is who is really to blame for garden tax

The introduction of a 'garden tax' has proved controversial. Picture: Jane Barlow
The introduction of a 'garden tax' has proved controversial. Picture: Jane Barlow
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WHEN you refuse to give councils the money they so desperately need, there are consequences.

In Edinburgh, where the city council has been starved of cash by the SNP government, one of those unfortunate consequences is the controversial new “garden tax”. Letters sent out to explain the new £25-a-year charge for emptying brown bins are causing anger across the city.

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But that anger should not be directed at the administration in the City Chambers. It should be directed at the SNP administration in St Andrew’s House, which has cut council budgets by £1.5 billion since 2011. This year alone, the backroom deal the SNP struck with the Greens delivered £159 million when local authorities needed £545m just to stand still. In Edinburgh, the SNP cuts have cost residents more than £200-a-head.

With growing numbers of people living in the city, an ageing population increasingly reliant on lifeline services, and growing demand as a result of the Tories’ cost of living crisis, councils are being asked to deliver more while spending less. It is economically impossible.

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So councils across Scotland are starting to introduce charges for things which previously were free: in Glasgow, the daft decision was to charge kids to go swimming, threatening to add to the obesity crisis.

Scottish Labour has persistently called on the SNP to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to end austerity and invest in lifeline services. The Nationalists could increase taxes on the richest one per cent in our country to raise vital funds, but would rather blame Westminster than do what’s best for the people of Scotland. The Edinburgh garden tax is likely to prove deeply unpopular. But nobody in the Capital should forget who is to blame.