Local authority rejects Scottish Government freeze and hikes council tax 10%

Argyll and Bute has become the first Scottish local authority to raise council tax this year.

Argyll and Bute rejects Scottish Government freeze and hikes council tax 10 per cent iStock

Argyll and Bute Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to reject the Scottish Government’s council tax freeze as it announced a 10% hike.

Humza Yousaf offered councils the equivalent funding of a 5% council tax rise if they kept the levy at its current rate, with £147m put forward to fund this.

Local authorities across Scotland warned the First Minister that the money did not go far enough as they struggled to make ends meet.

Argyll and Bute Council said it would be forced to cut services if it did not raise tax, saying it faced a funding gap of more than £40m.

Those in band D properties will now pay £1,627.12 a year, the local authority said.

Glasgow, Aberdeenshire, Scottish Borders, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire have all agreed to freeze council tax.

But that came with a warning they would be forced to make millions in cuts to public services.

It comes after the Scottish Government told councils they would be given an extra £62.7m following backlash over the council tax freeze.

The policy was announced at the SNP conference in October and sparked anger from local councillors because they were not told in advance.

The Argyll and Bute budget was met with surprise by some councillors, passing by just two votes.

The ruling Argyll, Lomond and Islands Group (TALIG) – made up of Conservative, Liberal Democrat and some independent councillors – warned last month the hike was possible.

Labour and the SNP proposed the local authority stick with a freeze.

‘In all the years I’ve been a councillor this has been the most difficult budget to set’

Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Robin Currie, said: “In all the years I’ve been a councillor this has been the most difficult budget to set.

“We considered every option to save the council services and local jobs that communities need. We campaigned for fair council funding for Argyll and Bute with COSLA.

“We identified nearly £4m more savings without affecting services or jobs. We took steps to raise income such as doubling council tax on second homes.

“But Argyll and Bute still faced a multi-million-pound budget gap that threatened the council services people use every day.

“Our focus has to remain firmly on supporting people now, and on building the sustainable future we all want for Argyll and Bute. That focus cannot slip away in the face of severe and ongoing budget gaps.

“This service-saving budget is only possible with an increase in council tax. Council tax funds council services. Increasing council tax saves services.

“It was a difficult decision to take but it is the responsible one. Council tax reduction benefits are there to help those in greatest need. And communities across the area can continue to rely on the council services and support they need.”

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