Council tax freeze confirmed for another year


By a Newsnet reporter

All of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have confirmed their agreement to freeze council tax for another year.  The freeze has been in place since 2007-8, and was a manifesto commitment of the first SNP government.  During the May election this year, the SNP pledged to continue the freeze.

Local authorities agreed to the freeze as part of their funding arrangements with the Scottish government.  As part of the deal, councils have pledged to maintain the numbers of teachers and police officers.

Scottish Finance John Swinney said: “Despite the most dramatic reduction in public spending ever imposed on Scotland by the UK Government, over the next three years, local government will receive a larger share of Scottish Government funds than in 2007-08.

“Like the Scottish Government, councils face a number of competing pressures on their budgets, so I am delighted the package I offered to local authorities has been accepted in principle by every council.

“This will see the council tax freeze continue for another year, putting over £500 into the pockets of hard pressed households since 2008, while maintaining teacher numbers and the number of police officers on our streets – benefiting every household in Scotland.”

Local authority elections are due in May next year.  Currently only two of Scotland’s local authorities, Glasgow and North Lanarkshire, have a majority Labour administration.  Another four authorities, Clackmannanshire, Midlothian, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire have minority Labour administrations.  Even these councils have signed up to the Council Tax freeze.  

Labour’s local government spokeswoman Sarah Boyack claimed that the SNP Government had “held a gun to the head of local authorities” in order to force them into agreement.      

Ms Boyack said: “It is hardly surprising that councils have signed up given the penalties for not doing so are so severe that they would decimate local services even more than at present.”

However not all reactions were so negative.  Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown MSP said: “In the tough financial climate we currently find ourselves in, this freeze provides a welcome break for hard pressed families who are having to stretch their household budgets further and further.”

SNP MSP Kevin Stewart, Deputy Convener of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, also welcomed the confirmation that all councils in Scotland have agreed to freeze the council tax for another year.

Mr Stewart said:

“People like what the SNP is doing.  In local communities and across the country we have improved front line services and have 1000 extra police officers helping bring down crime rates to their lowest level for 35 years while freezing the council tax – which makes a real difference to people’s lives.”