Highlands & Islands

Western Isles Council raises tax nearly 4.79% in new budget

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar logo

Council tax in the Western Isles is to go up by 4.79%.

The rise, agreed by the council administration for the 2019/20 budget, is the maximum Holyrood allows. East Lothian and Midlothian councils have already announced the same rise.

The council expects it to mean an increase of between 60p and £1 per week for most people in the Islands.

The local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said the budget was the most challenging in its history.

Care home charges

Council leader Roddie Mackay said care home charges would rise by 3%, despite a recommendation for a bigger increase by the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) which brings together health and social care services.

Mr Mackay said that since 2010 the Comhairle has had £1.7m less to spend on core services.

He added that while he understood that the IJB had to recover the money it spends on care homes, he did not think it was acceptable "to move to this position in a single year".

He added: "I would therefore propose that we agree an increase of 3% for 2019/20. The IJB chief finance officer has confirmed that this would not directly affect their draft budget.

"In addition, I suggest we ask for a further report on increases in future years, together with their impact on the IJB financial plan."

Major projects

He said the council was reviewing services and making savings, but difficult decisions would have to be made over the next few months about economic development, bus services and waste disposal in the area.

The council has, however, made big spending commitments to the Lewis Residential Care Project and to redevelop Barra's Castlebay Community School.

He added that there was "no sign" of the "pressure" on budgets easing.