Edinburgh council leader says proposed council tax freeze would leave the city £2 million worse off

The proposed council tax freeze would see £144m split between Scotland’s councils
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The Scottish Government’s council tax freeze has been described as “punitive” by the leader of Edinburgh City Council – who warned it would leave the city £2 million worse off.

The proposed freeze, announced by First Minister Humza Yousaf in October, would see £144m split between Scotland’s councils, equivalent to a 5% increase nationally.

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In Edinburgh however a 5.5% rise had been considered to help meet growing financial demands.

Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day described the proposed council tax freeze  as “punitive”Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day described the proposed council tax freeze  as “punitive”
Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day described the proposed council tax freeze as “punitive”

Councillor Cammy Day said: “We were talking about 5.5%,” adding the Scottish Government’s proposed freeze on rates would leave the authority “not far short of £2m”.

He said it would “not benefit poor people” and that it was still unclear “what the impact is if you don’t accept the offer”.

Deputy first minister Shona Robinson has indicated councils could reject the freeze and apply an increase but would not receive a share of the £114m grant, a recent report to councillors in East Lothian said.

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Cllr Day added: “We’ve not discussed putting it up to seven (per cent) but if we did, what would be the consequence? Would the government genuinely say to Edinburgh ‘you’re not getting the £16m subsidy’?”

The leader of the capital’s minority Labour administration said he would prefer to see the money set aside for the grant spent “retrofitting properties to get them to net zero”.

Cllr Day continued: “Every single authority across Scotland had intended to increase them from between four and 10 per cent from different colours of councils.

“I think it’s shameful. We all signed up the Verity House Agreement – every leader signed the letter saying this was a new way of working, we would rather you didn’t ring-fence things and you should respect the autonomy of local authorities. And then a couple of months later it’s ripped up and they say ‘we’re doing this anyway’.

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“It was, I think, a desperate bid for some support. The SNP is failing at politics nationally and this was seen as a cheap trick and it’s not worked.”

A spokesperson for Ms Robinson said: “In the face of a profoundly challenging financial situation, the Scottish Government is making available record funding of more than £14 billion to councils in 2024-25 – a real-terms increase of 4.3% compared with the previous year if the council tax freeze is accepted.

“We recognise the crucial role councils play in their communities, which is why we have increased their overall share of the Scottish Budget.”

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