Edinburgh council tax: Scottish Government proposals would mean bigger bills for over 100.000 city residents

Scottish Government and Colsa are consulting on proposals to make people in higher bands pay a bigger share
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More than 100,000 households in Edinburgh face having to pay more in council tax under a proposed shake-up of the system.

The Scottish Government wants people living in the highest value properties to pay a bigger share of the overall amount which councils raise from the tax. And it is carrying out a joint consultation with council umbrella body Cosla, seeking views on plans to increase the amount paid by people in the top four bands – E, F, G and H. Almost one in four Edinburgh households would be affected.

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The government says the proposed changes aim to address criticism that the current system is unfair, because those in the lower bands pay a higher proportion of the value of their property than those in the higher bands. If the proposed changes go ahead, they would come into effect at the start of the 2024-25 financial year and be phased in over three years. The Council Tax Reduction scheme would continue to offer lower bills for those unable to afford their council tax, regardless of what band they are in.

Nearly one in four Edinburgh households would have to pay more council tax under the plans.  Picture: Shaun WilkinsonNearly one in four Edinburgh households would have to pay more council tax under the plans.  Picture: Shaun Wilkinson
Nearly one in four Edinburgh households would have to pay more council tax under the plans. Picture: Shaun Wilkinson

Under the proposals, people in Band E would pay 7.5 per cent more in council tax, those in Band F properties would see a 12.5 per cent increase, bills for Band G houses would rise by 17.5 per cent and Band H households would see the biggest rises at 22.5 per cent. Similar increases were introduced in 2017.

Edinburgh has a higher proportion of homes in the top four bands than most other areas, so while the government says only 28 per cent of properties nationally would be affected, in Edinburgh 39 per cent of households will pay more. Out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, only East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, Stirling and Aberdeenshire have a higher proportion of properties in the four top bands.

The consultation opened on July 12 and will run for 10 weeks, until September 20, 2023.

Here’s how the proposed changes would affect you

Band E

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There are 44,917 homes in Band E (£58,001 – £80,000) in Edinburgh. The council tax bill for Band E properties this year (2023-24) is £1,902.10. Under the proposals, it would rise to £2,044.76 – meaning an extra £142.66.

Band F

There are 27,063 homes in Band F (£80,001 – £106,000) in Edinburgh. The council tax bill for Band F properties this year (2023-24) is £2,352.50. Under the proposals, it would go up to £2,646.56 – an increase of £294.06.

Band G

There are 23,721 homes in Band G (£106,001 – £212,000) in Edinburgh. The council tax bill for Band G properties this year (2023-24) is £2,835.06. Under the proposals, that would rise to £3,331.20 – an extra £496.14.

Band H

There are 4,365 homes in Band H (over £212,000) in Edinburgh. The council tax bill for Band H properties this year (2023-24) is £3,546.84. Under the proposals, that would increase to £4,344.88 – a rise of £798.04.

Residents will be ‘terrified’ by scale of increases

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The scale of the proposed increases in council tax bills will “terrify” Capital residents who are already grappling with a cost-of-living crisis, Lothian Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour has claimed.

He said: “These bombshell council tax rises being proposed by the SNP Government will terrify local residents in Edinburgh. Many of them are already grappling with the cost-of-living crisis, so increases of this scale would be a hammer blow to their personal and household finances. People across Edinburgh should not be bearing the brunt of the SNP failing to give Edinburgh council the resources they have needed year after year.

“Typically, SNP-Green ministers are once again passing the buck to councils like Edinburgh to make impossible decisions. On this occasion, it looks as though residents are set to pay the price with a huge hike in their council tax bills. I know how worried people in Edinburgh are by these proposals and I’d urge everyone to make SNP-Green ministers aware of their concerns through their consultation.”

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack branded the SNP government’s proposals a “scandal”. She said “Years of brutal cuts by the SNP has local services in Edinburgh at breaking point, and now the government wants to plug the gaps with eye-watering council tax hikes of up to around £800. It is a scandal that ordinary Scots are once again being asked to pay more while getting less in return.

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“This damaging council tax bombshell will hit households in Edinburgh during the worst cost of living crisis in decades, piling pressure on people already facing impossible financial decisions. Scots struggling with rising housing costs should be getting support from their government, but instead they are being asked to foot the bill for the SNP’s failure. Labour will stand up for people struggling with soaring living costs and fight for a fair deal for Edinburgh.”

Public finance minister Tom Arthur said: “We have listened to calls for the council tax system to be made fairer, as presently more of the burden falls on those in the lower bands when considered as a proportion of the value of their property.” He said even after the changes, average council tax in Scotland would still be less than anywhere else in the UK.

“We know that many people are struggling with their finances and our Council Tax Reduction scheme is there to ensure nobody has to pay a council tax bill they cannot be expected to afford, regardless of what band they are in. I would encourage anyone who has views on these proposals to complete our consultation to help us determine if they should be taken forward.”

And Cosla’s Katie Hagmann said: “For many years there have been calls to make the council tax system fairer. We are pleased to be working jointly with the Scottish Government to explore ways that we can achieve this. This is a consultation about ways to make Council Tax more proportionate for everyone, so that householders pay their fair share towards the delivery of essential local services. We want to hear from individuals, households, and communities to inform any redesign of this local tax.”