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17.02.17

Scottish councils vote to freeze basic council tax for another year

Three labour-led Scottish councils have again voted to freeze the basic rate of Council Tax for another year.

South Lanarkshire confirmed the news on Thursday that it would not be increasing tax for their residents for the ninth year in a row, even though they could have raised the rate by up to 3%, as two other councils, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire, followed suit to also retain their basic council tax rate.

Despite this, around three quarters of households will still see their bills rise after MSPs voted to increase the top four bands of council tax back in November 2016.

The news comes after Angus Council chose to raise its basic council tax by the maximum of 3%, as did Glasgow City, Fife and Highland.

Cllr Eddie McAvoy, leader of South Lanarkshire, commented on the freezing of tax in a leaflet to residents: “I know this will be welcome news to many of you, but another key message this year is that the grant the council receives from the Scottish Government has been reduced yet again.

“This continues to add to the pressure on our budgets, especially as demand for our services continues to grow.”

The move has come only months before council elections take place in May, and is likely to be popular with locals although it could create added tension with campaigners concerned with the effects of austerity and the likelihood of cuts to essential public services.

Cllr McAvoy added that South Lanarkshire council had been forced to find £90m in savings in recent years, and has had to find an additional £43m in the budget this year, some of which will have to come out of council services such as children’s services and adult social care.

The news comes in contrast to Surrey County Council being forced to abandon raising their council tax by an enormous 15% last week, compromising instead to raise council tax by 4.99%.

Other councils in England have also struggled with funding for public services, as Liverpool City Council today released its budget, warning that 300 jobs would be cut over five years and that frontline services were likely  see services become “significantly reduced”.

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