Council tax freeze: Finance Secretary Shona Robison insists the Scottish Government isn't punishing councils like Argyll and Bute who reject freeze

Last week Argyll and Bute Council voted to reject the government’s council tax freeze – now the finance secretary says the government won’t punish them, despite not handing over compensation cash to them

First Minister Humza Yousaf has called on councillors in Argyll and Bute to reconsider imposing an “unjustifiable” 10 per cent increase in council tax bills.

The plea came as finance secretary Shona Robison insisted the Scottish Government would not punish local authorities who reject the proposed council tax freeze.

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Humza Yousaf and Shona Robison. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesHumza Yousaf and Shona Robison. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Humza Yousaf and Shona Robison. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

This comes after Ms Robison announced there would be £62.7 million in extra funding for local government – but this will only apply to those who agree to the Government’s council tax freeze. This is on top of the £147m allocated in the initial 2024/25 budget in December.

Mr Yousaf confirmed the Government had written to council leaders in the area, offering “further conversations” with them around funding.

He said: “For those councils like Argyll and Bute, who I think unjustifiably raised their council tax in a cost-of-living crisis, they will have to answer to their constituents.”

The First Minister added: “I think we will get a council tax freeze, I would hope, right across the country, because we will continue to engage with Argyll and Bute. I think they should reconsider.”

Ms Robison earlier told the BBC: “This isn’t about punishing councils – it’s about recognising that taking together the funding that we’re providing, the additional funding, is nearly £210m.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable that council taxpayers see some of the benefit of that. We believe that at a time when rising prices are putting significant strain on household finances, the council tax freeze gives some support to households over the coming year.”

Ms Robison said local government was getting a “larger slice of a smaller cake” as the proportion of the Government’s Budget being given to councils is rising from 31 per cent to 32 per cent.

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She also challenged the argument that a council tax freeze would not help those on the lowest incomes during the cost-of-living crisis.

Child Poverty Action Group has previously claimed the council tax freeze will make “little difference” to the poorest households in Scotland, as they are already exempt from paying council tax.

The finance secretary said: “As a proportion of their income, those on the lowest incomes will benefit. Council tax represents a larger proportion for those on lower incomes on top of the council tax reduction scheme for those who cannot be expected to pay council tax.

“I’m talking about those who are not entitled to not pay council tax, but are still on a low income. This is the easiest way of making sure people get support quickly at a time of economic crisis.”

However, opposition parties say the actions of the Government towards Argyll and Bute Council showed it was in fact punishing councils who did not comply with its council tax freeze policy.

Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ finance and local government spokeswoman, said: “Shona Robison herself admitted that the SNP Government’s funding for the council tax freeze was nowhere near enough and left local authorities in limbo about their budgets.

“It’s disgraceful that she should be threatening to withhold money when they are trying to provide essential services with inadequate Scottish Government funding.

“Even when she got unexpected additional money from the UK government, councils have been short-changed because of the black hole in the SNP’s finances. Yet again, it will be the public who suffer from the SNP’s mismanagement of the economy.”



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