Edinburgh ‘penalised for success’ in council tax rise claim Tories

Iain Whyte. Picture: Andrew Cowan
Iain Whyte. Picture: Andrew Cowan
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CITY Tories today hit out at council tax changes which will mean Edinburgh paying more than anywhere else in Scotland.

Figures show the Scottish Government’s move to raise the tax on properties in the top four bands (E-H) across the country will land Capital residents with an extra bill totalling £15.6 million – an increase of 14.6 per cent. The next nearest is Aberdeenshire where people will pay an extra £8.2m, a 7.6 per cent rise.

The ward with the most higher-band houses and therefore paying the biggest amount extra is Inverleith, where bills for the 9833 properties in the top four bands could go up by more than £2m – before the general three per cent rise across the city is taken into account.

Inverleith councillor and Tory finance spokesman Iain Whyte said: “These council tax increases leave thousands of people across Edinburgh facing higher bills of anywhere between £107 and £526.”

And he said the Scottish Government was cutting 
funding for the city council by 4.1 per cent, causing “a double blow of tax rises and cuts to local services”.

Cllr Whyte said: “Edinburgh is being penalised for being successful as the council tax changes impact here far more than anywhere else in Scotland.

“Those looking for a family home in Edinburgh often find they are looking at houses in Band E and above. They must already cope with the increased tax from the SNP’s replacement of stamp duty and now they find if they manage to buy the home their family needs they will have extra council tax imposed on top.

“The total amount raised in Inverleith could be over £2m which will dismay residents when it is accompanied by cuts in council services like the reduction in library opening hours proposed for Blackhall and Stockbridge.”

The shift in the burden of council tax onto homes in bands E-H was announced before last year’s Holyrood election, with the SNP saying it would make the tax fairer.

Bills for band E properties (valued between £58,000-£80,000 at 1991 prices) will rise by 7.5 per cent, band F (£80,000-£106,000) by 12.5 per cent, band G (£106,000- £212,000) by 17.5 per cent and band H (over £212,000) by 22.5 per cent.

In Edinburgh, a total of 81,611 homes are affected by the changes – far more than anywhere else in Scotland. Glasgow has 47,605 and the next nearest is Aberdeenshire, which has 45,638.

In contrast with Inverleith, the city ward with the fewest higher-band properties is Sighthill/Gorgie, which has only two homes in the top H band, and will face extra bills of £135,485.

Next lowest is Leith Walk, with 11 band H homes and a total extra tax bill of £414,973.

Leith Walk SNP councillor Lewis Ritchie defended the tax rises as a necessary way of supporting essential services.

He said: “Rates in Scotland are lower than in England across each and every band on average. Seventy-five per cent of households are unaffected by these changes.

“Those living in the most expensive properties will be asked to pay between £2 and £12 per week more. I got into politics because I wanted to create a more equal society where wealth is redistributed and the services we all depend upon are supported and well-funded.

“This progressive policy is a necessary step towards that aim, with the money raised going directly towards supporting Edinburgh’s schools, roads, social care and other essential services.”