All Scots face maximum council tax rise as town halls face budget squeeze

Bills are poised to go up by the maximum 3 per cent in homes across Scotland this year. Picture: Contributed
Bills are poised to go up by the maximum 3 per cent in homes across Scotland this year. Picture: Contributed
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All Scots homes are facing a rise in their council tax this year for the first time in a decade as town hall chiefs seek to raise scarce revenues to stave off a funding squeeze.

Bills are poised to go up by the maximum 3 per cent in homes across Scotland this year, meaning that council tax levels will increase by an average of £34.84 to £1,200 in 2018/19.

A budget struck between the minority SNP government and the Greens means that council budgets will effectively stand still this year, but local authorities also face the additional pressure of finding cash for a proposed 3 per cent hike in public sector pay.

All councils who have so far declared their council tax intentions for next year say they will impose a 3 per cent increase, research by the Times newspaper has found.

The three councils who have yet to declare – West Dunbartonshire, Clackmannanshire and Aberdeenshire – have 
all indicated bills will also go up by 3 per cent, the paper added.

The recent Scottish Budget deal secured an extra £160 million for councils, but leaders say this means their funding only stands still compared with last year.

Councils have also warned that £590m has been axed from their budgets in recent years and say they need an additional £545m just to keep up with growing demands in areas like social care.

Labour say the SNP should have introduced more radical tax hikes in their own budget to provide extra revenues.

Finance spokesman James Kelly said: “The SNP has left local government with a £386m shortfall.”

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The Scottish Government is pretending its budget delivers tax cuts for low earners, yet across the country local authorities are being forced to raise council tax to plug the gaps.

“Local government is once again being treated as the poor relation.

“The SNP have left local authorities to pick up the tab for their government’s 
promised public sector pay rises.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government insisted that councils’ revenue funding will increase by £174m and capital spending by almost £90m this year.

He added: “It is at councils’ discretion whether they choose to implement a rise in council tax.

“Local authority budget setting is the responsibility of individual authorities but their day to day funding will increase next year by almost £342m.”