Scotland politics

Most local authorities yet to reveal council tax plans

wheelie bins Image copyright PA
Image caption Council tax makes up about 15% of the money councils receive for providing local services

Most councils have still not indicated whether they might raise the council tax next year despite gaining the power to do so.

Only around a quarter of Scotland's 32 local authorities have now publicly indicated they may put it up for everyone.

From next year councils will be able to raise the tax by up to 3%, ending a national freeze.

One intends to keep the freeze and there is speculation more will follow.

Borders, Highland, Edinburgh and Falkirk have all indicated they could do go for a rise although final decisions on whether to do this are weeks off.

It seems likely that Perth and Kinross, Dundee, Angus and Fife will also debate raising the tax.

But many appear to be playing their cards close to their chest and will not reveal their possible intentions for the moment.

Budget pressures

South Lanarkshire Council has said it will definitely not raise the tax and there is speculation more will follow.

Most councils will still be exploring the option of higher council tax and what it would mean in practice.

There are several reasons why it cannot be presumed that all councils will raise the tax even though an increase could relieve some of the pressure on their budgets.

For example:

  • The council tax makes up about 15% of a typical council's budget - a 3% rise would add a relatively small amount to a council's kitty. Scottish Borders calculates its proposed increase would be worth £1.5 million a year. Some councils may conclude that they will be asking people to pay more but still see cuts.
  • Some councils may have a relatively high number of council tax payers in Band E, F, G or H properties who will automatically pay more through changes to the way the banding system works. These changes could lead to more money for such councils but a 3% increase on top of this could prove controversial locally.
  • The council elections take place in May. Some councillors may believe that holding the freeze for another year could demonstrate efficiency.

More councils are likely to spell out their full budget proposals in the coming weeks.

Most will take decisions by February. Any increases will take effect from April.

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