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.