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Local accountability

Brian Taylor | 10:48 UK time, Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Another couple of wee thoughts re council tax and today’s Scottish budget.

John Swinney is meeting council leaders, again, this morning with the objective of securing a freeze.

Why? Why so keen?

As billed earlier on this site, a council tax freeze would be popular – and might help voters forget elided promises on bobbies and class sizes.

The Scottish Government’s economic strategy suggested another reason - that pegging council tax would contribute to a sense of equity.

Ministers say that a collective sense of fairness is one of the factors driving economic growth.

Against that, though, a council tax freeze scarcely enhances local government accountability, supposedly an SNP aim.

How are councils made more locally accountable when their financial planning is driven by a nationally-negotiated settlement?

That also applies, incidentally, to the proposal for a Local Income Tax – at a nationally determined level of 3p in the pound?

There may or may not be reasons for backing LIT but, as it stands, local accountability would not appear to be one of them.

But is there an extra, possibly unintended, consequence? The good and sensible people of England are already beginning to grumble about the Scottish financial settlement (or what they are, occasionally erroneously, told about the Scottish financial settlement.)

Might they grumble still more if Scots benefit from a council tax freeze?

Might they begin to question the Union settlement? And the downside for the Scottish National Party would be? Precisely.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 12:39 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • EricH wrote:

Such a cynic :-P Maybe we can supplement the cooncil TAX with some lottery funding or is that all destined for London :-P

  • 2.
  • At 01:00 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Johnno wrote:

Brian, I don't want you to get a big head, but you have to be one of the best at this blogging business, your nickname should be 'Impartial'. I find it hard to believe that the BBC mandarins allow you to write. It's a shame the same can't be said for Reporting Scotland. Still, when we get a Scottish Broadcasting Service I'll recommend you for the job as the big boss ;)

  • 3.
  • At 01:24 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Marc Holt wrote:

Brian, the council tax freeze isn't about annoying those of us living south of the border, it's about moving towards a tax regime that's fairer for the people of Scotland.

I know plenty of people on low incomes living in the Central Belt. A tax free would be welcomed wholeheartedly by them.

As for LIT, I wish we had that option here in England. Sure, I would have to pay more being on a decent salary, but sometimes you have to think of those in society who are less fortunate.

I applaud the Scottish Government as it attempts to better people’s quality of life.

Shame we have the wrong Scots in power down here!

  • 4.
  • At 03:15 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Marc Holt wrote:

Brian, the council tax freeze isn't about annoying those of us living south of the border, it's about moving towards a tax regime that's fairer for the people of Scotland.

I know plenty of people on low incomes living in the Central Belt. A tax free would be welcomed wholeheartedly by them.

As for LIT, I wish we had that option here in England. Sure, I would have to pay more being on a decent salary, but sometimes you have to think of those in society who are less fortunate.

I applaud the Scottish Government as it attempts to better people’s quality of life.

Shame we have the wrong Scots in power down here!

  • 5.
  • At 07:38 AM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • M McFarlane wrote:

I'm more concerned that the main BBC news and political programmes have become little better than the downmarket tabloid newspapers regarding their quality of content and reporting.

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