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Householders facing rise

Council tax hikes likely on higher value homes

Council taxThe top four bands of council tax in Scotland could rise as MSPs seek to rebalance the burden of payment.

If backed by MSPs today it would see increases in bands E to H, with the average band E household paying £2 per week more and those in the highest band about £10 a week more.

First Minister Nicolas Sturgeon wants those in higher value homes “to pay a bit more” and says the extra revenue would go towards the education budget.

Green MSP Andy Wightman has put forward an amendment accepting the changes, but noting that parliament “regrets” that the plans “undermine the principle of local accountability and autonomy and fail to address a number of issues”.

Local government spokesman Graham Simpson said the SNP was “not only hitting hard working families with higher taxes but also ensuring that local people do not feel any direct benefit form the money raised.”

Scottish Labour meanwhile said the government should “think again”. Deputy leader Alex Rowley said: “The nationalists’ proposals have not been bold enough, ambitious enough or frankly good enough.”

The Scottish Greens also back replacing the council tax, and are in favour of a revaluation of properties – the current system is based on house values dating back to 1991.

And the Lib Dems said that “this week should be the week to bury the council tax, not raise it”. MSP Mike Rumbles said the vote was “hugely significant”, adding that “local taxation should be for local services”.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Retail Consortium has noted that councils in Scotland gained the power to introduce a new local discretionary business rates relief a year ago and that one council – Perth & Kinross – has now taken advantage of this new power by introducing a rates relief. It covers small and medium sized retailers in Perth town centre until the end of next March.

SRC director David Lonsdale said:  “This is encouraging, The SRC supports the principle behind this new rates relief, as it is welcome acknowledgement of the need to keep down costs for business.

“However exactly one year on from its introduction we remain to be convinced that its use will either be widespread or substantive enough to be effective, particularly as we understand no Scottish Government funding has been forthcoming to help offset the cost to councils.

“While Perth is to be commended for taking action more widespread adoption by councils of the new relief is – for the moment at least – like the hole in a Polo Mint, missing.”

 

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