Leading question

Any result from the survey sponsored by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) on council tax (your report, 3 January) is completely undermined by the question devised for it. As leading questions go, this was a masterpiece.

“I would be willing to pay more council tax if I was certain the money raised was spent on local services such as schools and care for older people” is about as contentious as “I would like my dinner to be well cooked, tasty and served on a plate and not in the dog’s dish”.

The only surprise about the solicited response is that 33 per cent could be found to disagree with it. Here’s another question it might like to ask.

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“As I understand that only around 15 per cent of the funding for local government services is actually supplied by the council tax which bears no relationship to any person’s ability to pay and which allows a household with several wage earners to pay the same as a struggling senior citizen now alone in the family home, do you agree that the council tax should be abolished and replaced by a fairer form of tax such as a local income tax?”

And here’s another one.

“I am aware that the SNP Scottish Government fully understands the unfairness of the council tax, has therefore frozen it for seven years by giving cash compensation to Scottish councils and has tried to have it replaced by a local income tax, a measure which was opposed by both Labour and the Tories in the Scottish Parliament and made impossible by the Westminster Government which threatened to withdraw a very significant sum in council tax benefit from the Scottish block grant if the SNP brought in local income tax.

“Don’t you agree therefore that only independence will allow us to effectively deal with this issue?”

I look forward to such surveys being organised.

David McEwan Hill



Once again Cosla is angling to raise council tax. However, as has been pointed out ad nauseam, many people living in properties in the higher bands do not enjoy high incomes out of which they can pay more tax.

Indeed, applying the same criteria to determine “fuel poverty” I would not be surprised if there were cases of “council tax poverty”. In short, council tax is regressive and should be allowed to wither away if it cannot be abolished.

Local government is already mainly financed by central government from the proceeds of income tax. Cosla could help its members meet the cost of essential services is to urge and co-ordinate savings in administrative costs, eg by reducing the number of highly paid posts and the salaries of those in them.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive