IN 2004 John Swinney said he’d “axe” the council tax. In 2007 Nicola Sturgeon said the “hated” council tax was beyond reform. In 2007 and 2011 Alex Salmond said in the SNP’s manifestos he’d “scrap” the council tax.
After nine years in government, five of them with a commanding majority, Nicola Sturgeon has now decided to keep the council tax with minor modifications.
The council tax will remain regressive, but a system of means-tested benefits and increases in the higher bands will make it slightly less unfair.
These changes introduce many anomalies. Kezia Dugdale has said that as she earns £60,000 and lives in a Band D property she will pay nothing extra, but is willing to do so.
Conversely, a hard-working family living on just above average income in a Band E property will see their council tax increase by more than £100 per year.
These changes will raise an extra £100 million next year. That is great, but looks a little insubstantial compared to the £400m of cuts forced on councils by the SNP. What the SNP is offering is not nearly enough to deliver the transformation in public services Scotland needs, it will simply help manage the decline.
As ever, the SNP are trying to perpetuate the myth that we can have more teachers and fewer potholes by timidly tinkering with our revenue-raising powers. We can’t.
(Dr) Scott Arthur
Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh
After two manifestos, nine years in power and a commission set up to discuss the replacement for council tax with much fanfare, the answer has come. The council tax is to be changed for… the council tax.
However, the new premise is so simplistic it beggars belief. If you live in a low-banded house you are deemed poor. Those in the higher bands are the rich. An msp, doctor, lawyer or other professional can live in a small flat in a lower band. They will pay very little. A large family house may be owned by a pensioner who has occupied it for 50 years. They will pay much more. It was greedy mortgage lenders and the buying of homes for investment that led to ridiculous prices, not the elderly. As one commentator remarked, it is the bedroom tax in reverse.
In 2016 we are still taxing bricks and mortar. The intelligent people on the commission wanted something better. Sadly, the snp, as usual, did not listen. I presume there will be clauses to help those in higher bands who may not have large incomes.
I suppose that will be more money spent on the form filling. However, there is always a funny side – the SNP are blaming everyone else for the decision they have made.
Belmont Gardens, Edinburgh
Credit to the SNP for devising a constructive method of breaking electoral promises. Make a promise, get elected, set up a commission and break the promise, citing the commission’s findings.
Guardwell Crescent Edinburgh