Latest Public Sector News

01.02.19

Scottish councils given powers to raise tourism and council taxes as government gets budget backing for ‘triple tax bombshell’

The Scottish Government has paved the way for councils across the country to raise taxes after the SNP brokered a deal with the Green Party, also allowing for a new levy on tourists to be introduced in what one MP called “triple tax bombshell.”

Dubbed the “most significant empowerment of local authorities since devolution,” the government’s budget has passed a key vote in Holyrood, which includes more core funding for councils and extra powers for them to levy local parking and tourist taxes.

Minutes before the budget debate was due to begin, the finance secretary stated he was “pleased to have reached an agreement” with the Greens – allowing him to pass plans originally set out in December and deliver what he called a “substantial devolution of power to local government.”

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said the deal was the result of “constructive politics” after his party had worked for months to secure extra protection for local services and to push forward local tax reform.

The deal includes £90m for the core local government settlement, a move to three-year local authority budgets, and powers for councils to set a levy on workplace car parking spaces.

Most notably, the 2.99% cap on council tax increases has been lifted to 4.79%, and councils will now be able to set a local ‘tourism tax.’

Edinburgh City Council is reportedly close to becoming the first authority in the UK to impose the overnight tourism tax, and the move will likely lead to English councils calling for similar levies to be introduced.

Mackay revealed his budget last month with plans to give extra funding for education, the health service, and infrastructure, alongside a tax increase for high tax earners.

He added: “The Scottish Government has continued to ensure our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK Government.”

The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats said they would not support the proposals because of a £319m cut to council budgets outlined in the plan – a figure the government contests and also due the SNPs refusal to call another referendum on Scottish independence.

Tory finance spokesperson denounced the deal, calling it a “triple tax bombshell,” and said Derek Mackay and Nicola Sturgeon had “torn up the promises” made at the last election.

The Scottish Government also revealed it has agreed to cross-party talks on replacing council tax and, if an agreement could be reached, it would publish legislation by 2021.

Image credit - Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

New rules to change the future of Social Value

05/06/2019New rules to change the future of Social Value

The government has announced the introduction of new rules to change the future of social value and make the way housing developers stump up the money for infrastructure both ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >