Consumer helpdesk: Does a council tax freeze mean no increase and no decrease?

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THIS week, an old friend of Consumer Watch got in touch. Mr AS of Edinburgh was disappointed when his Brussels sprouts failed to thrive.

After the intervention of Helpdesk, he received compensation for his disappointing crop. He contacted us with a question about his council tax bill.

Q. I don’t think that I have contacted you since your intervention got me £25 voucher from Dobbies following my complaint re Brussels sprouts plants. I received my City of Edinburgh council tax statement this week, which has me wondering whether you might have an interest in one of its features.

“I may have misread it, but it appears that a charge for police services no longer applies. However, apart from a small increase for non-CoE services, my charge remains the same as last year. I am left with the impression that a freeze on the council tax means, as well as no increase, no decrease either.

“If the explanation is because of the new police service then obviously it has to be paid for, but I thought part of the change was to effect a saving. The payment may have to made to the detriment of some other budget.

“Do we have a situation here where the political establishment is trying to fool all of the people all of the time?”

AS, Edinburgh

A An Edinburgh Council spokesperson replies: “Although the transfer of responsibility for police and fire authorities to the Scottish Government from April 2013 has resulted in changes in the associated funding arrangements, the overall burden on the taxpayer is unchanged.

“Rather than the previous arrangement, in which the Scottish Government provided funding to councils to cover these services, the Scottish Government now retains that funding. In short, while the pot of funding has changed hands, taxpayers are still paying the same overall amount of tax for the same services.”

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