Is your council tax going up or being frozen?

Humza Yousaf promised a nationwide council tax freeze last year - but not all local authorities have agreed to keep rates at their current levels.

Scotland: Is your council tax going up or being frozen? Getty Images

On Monday, Scotland’s smallest council became the last to officially confirm whether it would implement the Scottish Government’s nationwide council tax freeze.

The freeze, announced by First Minister Humza Yousaf last year, sparked anger from councils.

Despite the SNP leader’s promise that rates would stay as is, the decision ultimately lies with the country’s 32 local authorities.

Most decided to stick with the freeze after the Scottish Government offered them £147m in funding – the equivalent of a 5% council tax rise.

That was followed by the announcement of a further £62.7m in funding that would go to town halls.

But councils would only receive the funds if they agreed to freeze rates.

So which ones stuck with the Scottish Government’s freeze and which ones raised tax?

Aberdeen City Council

The SNP-LibDem administration in Aberdeen voted to accept the Scottish Government’s council tax freeze.

The local authority chose to make spending cuts and increase borrowing as it dealt with a £25m deficit.

Aberdeenshire Council

Aberdeenshire Council voted last month to freeze council tax as it announced its plans to tackle a £35m deficit.

School crossing patrollers and free parking are among the services being cut.

Angus Council

Councillors in Angus voted to dip into the local authority’s reserves as it agreed to implement the Scottish Government’s tax freeze.

The SNP-led council will keep Band D properties at £1,316.68 a year.

Argyll and Bute Council

Argyll and Bute Council became the first Scottish local authority to vote through a council tax rise.

The Tory-LibDem-independent-led council opted to raise rates by 10% – the highest of any local authority which raised rates –  saying it would be forced to cut services if it did not raise the levy as it battled a funding gap of more than £40m.

Last week, deputy first minister Shona Robison met with the council leader, with both sides describing the talks as “positive”.

This followed confirmation that the £62.7m in extra funding – dependent on the UK budget last week – would be given to councils.

“Discussions will continue with the focus on resolving any outstanding issues,” a spokesperson for the local authority said.

Despite the positive talks though, Argyll and Bute told STV News its position to raise tax remains.

The Scottish Government said both the £147m in cash to fund a 5% equivalent council tax rise and the £62.7m funds would only be given to councils which did not raise council tax.

City of Edinburgh Council

Councillors in Scotland’s capital voted on February 23 to freeze council tax.

The plans were passed by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Tories, saw a 7% rise in rent for council tenants.

The £1.3bn budget also included a 22% rise in city centre parking charges.

Clackmannanshire Council

Clackmannanshire Council unanimously agreed to freeze council tax on February 29 when it approved its £161.5m budget.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

The Western Isles local authority voted last month to freeze council tax as it made £1.7m in savings, including from its education budget.

Those living in a Band D property will continue to pay £1,290.75 a year.

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Dumfries and Galloway voted on February 27 to keep council tax rates frozen.

It said it would draw from £6.46m worth of reserves to protect services from being cut.

Dundee City Council

On February 29, councillors in Dundee voted to accept the Scottish Government’s council tax freeze.

East Ayrshire Council

East Ayrshire Council voted last month to freeze council tax.

It said the budget-setting process was particularly difficult as it sought to close a nearly £10m funding gap

East Dunbartonshire Council

Councillors in East Dunbartonshire voted to freeze council tax on February 22.

This means the annual Band D charge remains at £1,415.66 for 2024/25.

East Lothian Council

East Lothian Council opted last month to keep council tax rates as is.

But councillors warned that the increased funding from the Scottish Government was not enough to plug a £17.3m funding gap.

It said rents for council tenants will increase by 7% while second homeowners will see their council tax bill double.

A list of the measures taken by the local authority can be found here.

East Renfrewshire Council

Council tax will remain frozen in East Renfrewshire, councillors said on February 28.

But amid a £12m deficit, it will choose to make cuts of around £3.1m. Around £700,000 from its reserves will also be used.

Falkirk Council

The SNP administration in Falkirk will keep rates frozen this year.

But councillors also announced that charges for brown bin collection will rise to £45 while parking, burial and cremation charges will also go up.

Fife Council

Council tax payers in Fife will see their rates frozen for another year, the local authority said.

But Labour council leader David Ross warned that the council faces a budget gap of £42m in the coming years.

Glasgow City Council

On February 15, the SNP-led administration in Glasgow voted to freeze rates with the help of the Scottish Greens.

To implement the freeze, the council was forced to make cuts – despite unions warning that services are already “on their knees”.

Highland Council

Highlands residents will have their council tax rates frozen this year.

Band D properties will continue to pay £1,427.19 a year.

But the local authority warned of “unprecedented” financial pressure as it faces an estimated £113m budget gap over the next three years.

Inverclyde Council

Inverclyde Council became the second local authority to defy the Scottish Government and raise council tax.

The Labour-led administration announced it would hike rates by 8.2% this year and another 6% next year.

The council had initially been facing an estimated £12.5m funding gap over the next two financial years.

The council’s Labour leader Stephen McCabe has been at the centre of the row between councils and the Scottish Government over the plans for a national council tax freeze.

Residents in Inverclyde face council tax rises over the next two years.iStock

He accused deputy FM Shona Robison of “disrespecting” local authorities, who ultimately decide whether council tax will rise.

He wrote to Robison – who is also the finance secretary – to find a “win-win compromise” but that was rejected at a meeting with the deputy first minister.

Both sides described their talks as “disappointing”.

McCabe was also one of the council leaders who wrote directly to levelling up secretary Michael Gove asking for the UK Government to directly fund them.

Midlothian Council

Midlothian residents will see no increase in their council tax rates after councillors voted to freeze the levy.

Passing its nearly £300m budget, the council said no cuts would be made.

However, council tenants will see their rent rise by 5%.

Moray Council

Moray Council voted to freeze council tax rates on February 29, with an average Band D property still paying £1,430.69 a year.

Just under £3m in savings were made by councillors to fund a budget shortfall.

North Ayrshire Council

North Ayrshire Council announced on February 29 that council tax rates would be frozen in 2024.

It says its most recent budget was “widely recognised as one of the most challenging budgets the council has had to set in recent times”.

North Lanarkshire Council

Residents in North Lanarkshire will see their rates frozen for 2024.

The Labour council leader said that would mean £6m in savings.

Some of that will come from council tax for second homeowners rising by 100% and increased parking fines.

Orkney Islands Council

Orkney Islands Council was the last local authority in Scotland to officially confirm its budget.

It had already said in late February that it would freeze council tax – but only if the Scottish Government delivered the £62.7m it had promised councils.

The extra funding came as a result of new local spending in England. Through a process called the Barnett formula, that means devolved governments must receive an equivalent amount.

That funding was confirmed last week by the UK Government which meant the Scottish Government could confirm it would be sent to councils.

But Shona Robison, the finance secretary, said it would only be available to councils that voted for a tax freeze.

On Monday, Orkney councillors met and agreed that rates will be kept as is.

The local authority said council tax would increase by 10% if the funding didn’t come through.

Perth and Kinross Council

Perth and Kinross Council voted to freeze council tax rates on February 28.

Councillor Grant Laing, leader of Perth and Kinross Council, said: “Today hasn’t been easy. We’ve had to accept cuts in places that we would have preferred not to.

“To increase charges that we would have preferred to remain the same. But, we have also been able to reject cuts of almost £4m to minimise the impact on the most vulnerable people in our communities, so that we can keep providing support to help people maintain their tenancies, keep primary school swimming lessons, and minimise school meal increases.

“The Council Tax freeze is good news for residents at a financially difficult time.”

Renfrewshire Council

February 29 saw councillors in Renfrewshire vote to approve a council tax freeze.

Band D households will pay £1,436.17 in 2024/25. 

“Balancing the budget has been supported by £8.864m of savings and using up to £6.4m of reserves,” the council said.

Scottish Borders Council

Residents in the Scottish Borders will not see their council tax rise after local councillors voted to keep rates frozen.

The local authority had been working towards a 4% increase but funding from the Scottish Government should be the equivalent of at least a 5% rise.

Shetland Islands Council

Shetland councillors voted to freeze council tax rates for the year ahead back in February.

Band D properties will continue to pay £1,260.61 a year.

South Ayrshire Council

South Ayrshire Council voted on February 29 to keep council tax rates froze.

Martin Dowey, leader of the local authority, said: “This budget has been developed against a financially challenging background but despite this I’m pleased we’ve been able to balance the books.

“Although we have savings to make, we are aware of the financial hardship the cost of living crisis has caused for many local people, and we hope the Council Tax freeze will help with this.  

“Community engagement is really important to us. We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to influence and contribute to the decisions being made, so I’d encourage all residents to participate in our budget consultation.”

South Lanarkshire Council

Residents in South Lanarkshire will see their council tax frozen this year, councillors confirmed on February 21.

But the local authority also approved £13m in savings with £1.8m coming from the road’s budget in what councillors said were “painful decisions”.

Stirling Council

Council tax will be frozen in Stirling, the local authority said, after it passed its budget at the end of February amid “unprecedented financial pressures”.

Stirling Council leader, Chris Kane, said: “While I’m pleased we have been able to agree a budget, it has been extremely painful to deliver one with so many savings attached to it that cover a wide range of services. 

“However, there was acknowledgement across all political groups today that difficult decisions were unavoidable given the unprecedented financial pressures facing Stirling Council and every Scottish local authority.

West Dunbartonshire Council

Council tax will be frozen in West Dunbartonshire this year, councillors announced after a vote.

But the local authority warned of “unavoidable cuts to services” that will have a “lasting impact” on its communities.

“Members gathered to discuss how to plug the remaining £8.3m budget gap, after agreeing early savings of £2.3m late last year,” the council said last week.

“Savings agreed at the meeting include a £60 charge introduced for the collection of garden waste; a reduction in funding available through community budgeting; and the removal of £14,000 grant funding to the Loch Lomond Highland Games event.

“In addition, school crossing patroller locations will reduce in line with national guidance, breakfast clubs will be replaced with early start clubs chargeable for any pupil not entitled to a free school meal, and a saving will be made by replacing six underutilised grass pitches with three new 4G pitches.

“Other savings include a change to a four-day opening for Clydebank Town Hall and revisions to the way road defects are treated to ensure repairs last longer.”

West Lothian Council

West Lothian residents will see their council tax rates frozen over the next year, the council said after a vote on February 23.

But it said its decision to keep with the Scottish Government’s national council tax freeze “will result in a further £1.4m of budget savings being required in West Lothian next year as it is not fully funded”.

It added: “Due to insufficient funding from the Scottish Government combined with increasing costs, the council has a budget gap of £16.6m for 2024/25 (and budget gap of £38m from 2024/25 to 2027/28) – this means that significant savings are required.”

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