Scotland politics

Scottish election: Council tax freeze 'backed' in poll

council tax glasgow
Image caption All the main parties are backing a continued council tax freeze

Three-quarters of Scots support a continuation of the council tax freeze, according to an opinion poll.

The YouGov survey, for The Scotsman, showed 75% of respondents supported the freeze, compared to 19% who opposed it.

More than half the 1,332 people surveyed said the Scottish government was right to spend money on the freeze.

The SNP has vowed to continue the policy for the next five years, while Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems offer the freeze over a shorter period.

According to the poll, 42% of those asked "strongly support" another council tax freeze, with another 33% saying they "tend to support" the policy.

A total of 15% of those interviewed "tended to oppose" the freeze, while 4% of respondents "strongly" opposed it.

'Popular support'

The poll also suggested that 42% of people supported replacing the council tax with a local income tax, compared to 34% of respondents who opposed it.

The introduction of a local income tax is an SNP and Lib Dem policy which both parties say they would not bring forward during the next parliament - although a rate of 3p in the pound has already been suggested by the SNP.

When asked how much revenue it would be reasonable to raise, the majority of those polled - 31% - said they did not know. A total of 14% said it was reasonable to raise less than 1p; 19% said 1p; 14% said 2p and 10% said 3p.

This dropped to 2% when people were asked if it was acceptable to raise 4p in the pound through local income tax.

The SNP's John Swinney said: "The SNP's policy to freeze the council tax for the whole of the next parliament is hugely popular across Scotland, and is a vital boost for household budgets at a time when other bills are going up due to soaring fuel costs and Westminster's VAT hike.

"The SNP will not bring local income tax forward in the 2011-16 parliament.

"Over the period of the next parliament, we will consult with others to produce a fairer system based on ability to pay, which clearly carries popular support, and put this to the people at the 2016 election, by which time Scotland will have more powers over income tax, as well as council tax benefit resources transferred to Scotland."

'Fantasy economics'

Labour's Andy Kerr said: "Labour understands that times are tough, bills are rising and families are feeling the squeeze.

"That's why Labour has pledged to freeze the council tax.

"But unlike the nationalists, Labour will fund the council tax freeze properly so we don't see councils cutting services, higher charges for services people depend on, public sector workers losing their jobs and a five-year pay freeze for the public sector."

Derek Brownlee, from the Scottish Conservatives, said his party was committed to extending the freeze until 2013.

'Tough times'

"This poll confirms what we already know - a council tax freeze is hugely popular," he said.

"That is why Labour, despite having voted against the freeze in the last parliament, panicked a few weeks ago and cobbled together a new council tax policy - one that had been written on the back of an envelope and just hadn't been costed.

"Likewise, the SNP has promised a five-year council tax freeze without demonstrating how they would pay for it. Both parties are indulging in fantasy economics."

Like the Tories, the Scottish Liberal Democrats are also pledging a two-year freeze.

One of its candidates, Jeremy Purvis, said: "We have identified money to freeze council tax, which helps people in tough times.

"Liberal Democrats will ensure pensioners earning less than £10,000 will not pay any council tax."

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