Labour accused of ‘smash and grab’ over council tax rise

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The SNP have accused the Labour party of planning a ‘smash and grab’ raid on the most vulnerable as Iain Gray today backed calls from Glasgow Council leader Gordon Matheson for an increase in council tax.

Mr Matheson, the leader of Labour controlled Glasgow Council, has called for an end to the council tax freeze in order to make up the shortfall created by the impact of the looming Westminster cuts to the Scottish budget.


The SNP have accused the Labour party of planning a ‘smash and grab’ raid on the most vulnerable as Iain Gray today backed calls from Glasgow Council leader Gordon Matheson for an increase in council taxes.

Mr Matheson, the leader of Labour controlled Glasgow Council, has called for an end to the council tax freeze in order to make up the shortfall created by the impact of the looming Westminster cuts to the Scottish budget.

Glasgow Council introduced the council tax freeze in 2005, two years before the SNP came to power.  In 2007 the SNP extended the freeze to all local authorities throughout Scotland arguing that it helped those on lower incomes, such as pensioners, who had been hit particularly hard by local council tax rises.

An SNP proposal to replace the unfair tax with one based on income was blocked by Labour and the other Holyrood opposition parties.  The then UK Labour government had also threatened to withhold £500 million from the Scottish block grant if the plans were introduced.

Mr Matheson said:
“Over the next three years, Glasgow is looking at having to save an estimated £180m from our budget.

“To give you a sense of what that means, that is the total annual revenue cost for roads, lighting, cleansing, parks and sports facilities and community halls within the city.  So it’s unprecedented.

“I’m calling for the option of being able to raise council tax in order to offset some of the more brutal cuts that we will have to make.”

Labour leader Iain Gray has supported the removal of the freeze saying:
“The SNP tried to rig the council tax freeze for their own party political advantage but they always knew it was unsustainable and underfunded.”

However the SNP have labelled the plans “a disgrace” and have accused Labour of trying to make the public pay for Gordon Brown’s economic mismanagement.

Glasgow MSP and Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament Local Government Committee Bob Doris accused Labour of holding the most vulnerable to ransom and attacked their failure to back a fairer system.

Mr Doris said:
“Not content with inflicting two-thirds of the coming Westminster cuts on Scotland’s budget, the Labour Party now want the public to pay for Labour’s incompetence.

“Labour’s plan is a smash and grab raid on the public’s pockets.

“Even worse is that Labour plan to hold services for our most vulnerable citizens to ransom – instantly suggesting cuts to disabled play schemes, increasing charges for the elderly, and cutting more teachers.

“It is increasingly clear that Labour’s priorities are not those of the people of Scotland.

“For the last three years the SNP made available the money to freeze council tax to help hard pressed families, and Labour councils were always happy to take the cash.

“Labour had the opportunity to support the SNP in introducing a fair local taxation system that would have put an end to the unfair council tax, and they failed. After pushing council tax bills up by around 60% in their 10 years in power, and a track record of economic mismanagement, it seems Labour cannot break old habits.

“What this underlines is the need for the Scottish Government and Parliament to secure economic and financial powers from Westminster, so that we can grow the economy and boost revenues to invest in quality public services across Scotland.”

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