Economy and Infrastructure

12.03.18

Council tax to increase in every Scottish and Welsh authority

Every council in Scotland and Wales has committed to raising taxes, with every single Scottish authority increasing their share by the maximum 3%.

The issue was settled last week when the last Welsh council, Pembrokeshire, announced a massive 12.5% rise.

It is the first time in a decade that all of Scotland’s 32 councils have decided to increase taxes, with the SNP choosing to freeze the rates in 2007 and only allowing authorities to have full autonomy again from last year.

Clackmannanshire was the final Scottish council to confirm an increase, citing an expanding budget gap and efforts to preserve certain key services.

In a statement, an authority spokesperson explained: “Councillors have agreed spending on services for the year ahead as part of a budget setting process which seeks to protect priority services, while improving the financial sustainability of the council.

“At a special council meeting, councillors approved the revenue budget of £118m to spend on services in 2018/2019

“A capital budget programme of £55m was also agreed for the five-year period until 2023, with over 70 projects in the plan including the creation of the new Tullibody South Campus, funding for improvements to schools, investment in roads and footpaths and regeneration in communities.”

The 22 Welsh authorities pointed to similar problems to explain the increase in their taxes, with Pembrokeshire referring to a £16m funding gap to explain its decision to implement the first double figures increase since 2004.

“By voting through this rise, elected members have enabled the authority to close a critical £16m funding gap and therefore protect from cuts essential services such as education and social care,” explained council leader, Cllr David Simpson.

“If we had voted for either a 5% or 8% increase in council tax – which were also options – then those services would have been badly hit, consequently affecting the most vulnerable members of our society.”

The news follows warnings from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) which suggested tax rises across England could be the highest in 14 years, with 95% of councils set to raise rates.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said the sharp increase could be pinned down to “enormous financial pressures” and “the consequences of earlier funding cuts really beginning to bite.”

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