SNP call for opposition council tax proposals

Opposition parties have been challenged to set out their proposals for local taxation after reforms to the council tax were revealed by the SNP.

Marco Biagi. Picture: TSPL
Marco Biagi. Picture: TSPL

Local Government Minister Marco Biagi called on party leaders in Scotland to “ditch the posturing” and detail their plans after the Scottish Government announced the changes.

Under the reforms, unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the average Band E household will pay around £2 more per week from April 2017, with those in the highest band paying an extra £10 a week - an average of £517 a year.

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The council tax freeze will also end at the same point, with local authorities able to increase the charge by a maximum of 3% a year, potentially raising up to £70 million for local services.

Ms Sturgeon confirmed there are no plans for a revaluation of the council tax, which remains based on 1991 property values.

Mr Biagi said: “Earlier this week, we set out plans to reform local taxation by making the council tax fairer, protecting low-income families and raising £100 million for schools - but all the opposition parties have had to offer is tired-rhetoric and a complete avoidance of any detail.

“If any of the opposition parties want to start being taken even remotely seriously, they need to be clear with people in Scotland what their own plans are - and accept that simply carping from the sidelines isn’t going to cut it.

“As far back as 2009, Labour commissioned a report to decide what their policy should be on local tax reform - and to this day, it still hasn’t been published. In the last seven years Labour in Scotland have had four leaders and fought six elections - but haven’t had a single credible, detailed plan on local tax.”

He added: “The SNP has set out fair and progressive reforms to the council tax - and I’m looking forward to asking people in Scotland to support them. Other parties now have a duty to set out their own ideas - or ditch the posturing and get behind the SNP’s fair, balanced and reasonable proposals.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The SNP have had nine years to put this policy in place but they missed the opportunity to invest in education and instead cut £500 million from local authorities’ budgets. Half of what councils do is education.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will set out our proposals for local taxation in the run-up to May. They will be fair, progressive and give local democracy back to communities.”

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “This is laughable from a minister who has broken the central promise his party was elected on: to scrap the council tax.

“SNP Minister Marco Biagi should be embarrassed to promote this plan. The SNP promised to abolish council tax for a decade, but all they got rid of was the council tax freeze instead. We will outline our fairer plans in the coming weeks.

“Labour have set out more details of our plans on tax than any other party, including plans to ask those earning more than £150,000 to pay more in tax so we can invest in schools.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “It’s rich of the SNP to make demands like these, when its own council tax plans were a straight lift from Scottish Conservative-commissioned recommendations barely a month ago.

“And for a party which hasn’t even said what it will do with income tax when the power comes to Holyrood, perhaps it should sort out its own house before criticising other people’s.”

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