WHEN the SNP first came to power at Holyrood in 2007, one of its key policies was to freeze council tax.
Substantial increases in the monthly charge over previous years meant – unsurprisingly – this was a popular pledge, especially among the better-off who had been paying most and would save most.
But just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as a free council tax freeze. Year after year, this policy – combined with cuts to local authority budgets – has hit vital frontline services such as education, social care and roads maintenance.
And so we have a great deal of sympathy for a call from Cosla – the umbrella group that represents Scottish councils – for Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to increase their funding by more than half a billion pounds.
Council budgets have been cut in real terms by more than three times that amount since 2012 and if further cuts are imposed, the impact on services will be grave indeed.
In opposition, the SNP did the popular thing by promising to freeze council tax. Now, after more than 11 years in power, it’s time to ensure services are not sliced any thinner.