One third of Scots council tax bills set to soar by max level next month

A third of Scotland’s local authorities are planning to increase people’s council tax bills by the maximum permitted level of almost 5 per cent next month.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 2:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 2:57 pm

With only three of the nation’s 32 councils still to declare their budget plans, 11 have already said they will be asking taxpayers to endure rises of 4.79 per cent.

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This was the maximum level allowed by the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2019-20, which was passed last month after the SNP reached an agreement with the Greens.

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Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek Mackay. Picture: PA

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay had previously proposed to cap council tax rises at 3 per cent, the same level as last year, but increased the maximum in order to get his spending plans through.

Councils seeking the maximum 4.79 per cent rise include Midlothian, Moray, North and South Ayrshire and Renfrewshire. The others are Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Inverclyde, West Lothian and the Western Isles.

Five councils are putting bills up by around 4 per cent, including Stirling and Perth and Kinross, while 13 are keeping their rises at 3 per cent, including Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The changes mean that people living in Band D properties will pay an average of £46.13 more than they did last year excluding water and sewerage charges, with the owners of more expensive houses facing significantly steeper rises.

Aberdeen City Council is expected to become the largest local authority to increase bills by 4.79 per cent when it finalises its budget later this month.

Proposals being considered to cut costs include the closure of all but one library and all public toilets, the sacking of all lollipop men and women and the loss of around 200 jobs overall.

Local government umbrella body Cosla said council tax decisions were “rightly a matter for local determination based on local need and circumstance”.

Both Labour and the Scottish Conservatives said councils were being forced to increase people’s bills due to Mr Mackay’s Budget, claiming his spending plans had left them short changed.

Labour’s finance spokesman James Kelly said: “All across the country councils are having to hike council tax because the SNP government teamed up with the Greens to deliver £230m worth of cuts to core funding – and even these council tax rises will not stop the cuts.”

Scottish Tory local government spokesman Alexander Stewart added: “The swingeing cuts to local government funding by the SNP have left many services under threat.

“As such it’s no surprise to see that so many local authorities have increased council tax, however this will only go some way to covering their lost funding.

“Local services will still take a huge hit, meaning that thanks to this SNP Government we’ll all pay more, but get less.”