Leader comment: Don’t stall economy

Scotland’s councils are struggling financially. Some of the proposed cuts announced in recent weeks are eye-watering – and clearly a backward step for a developed nation.

And so it is welcome that the SNP has given local authorities more power to raise funds and allow them to develop solutions fit for their own market.

The but, of course, is that this amounts to a new suite of taxes which will hit voters at a time when the economy is spluttering and fears of Brexit grow.

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The tourism visitor levy seems a sensible move, but the planned workplace parking levy (WPL) has a lot of questions to answer.

The WPL would see employers pay an annual tax to the council for every parking space they provide for employees, though they could pass on the cost to their staff.

Nottingham, the city of Robin Hood, is the only place in the UK to levy such a tax, at £415 per space.

Teachers have already raised concerns, but it is the effect on ordinary workers which could be most dramatic.

A fee of around £500 would be large enough for many to feel impacted, but not large enough to encourage changes in behaviour.

Environmental groups believe the tax would lead to more people taking public transport, but this looks optimistic.

Many commuters – especially parents dropping children at school – simply have no option to take public transport.

Without clear planning, the WPL could just be a further tax on business and workers. And an indiscriminate one at that.

Following the SNP’s increase in income tax for middle earners, and the move to allow greater hikes in council tax, this is the last thing the economy needs at a precarious time.