PLANS ‘FAIRER, PROGRESSIVE AND LOCALLY EMPOWERING’
Local MSP Michael Russell has welcomed has welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans for an ambitious, progressive set of reforms to the Council Tax – which will see the rates paid by those in the highest bands pay more, with the money raised invested in schools across Argyll and Bute.
As announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this week, rates paid by those in Bands E, F, G and H will be adjusted – in a move which will generate £100 million to be invested in education, while leaving 75 per cent of households unaffected.
The planned reforms will also provide additional support for those on low incomes – with low income families across all bands seeing an extension of the council tax reduction scheme, benefitting 77,000 families by an average of £173 per year
There will also be additional support for 54,000 low income families – more than one third of which are pensioner households – living in higher band properties, who will be entitled to an exemption from the changes through the council tax reduction scheme.
The SNP has also been clear that if re-elected in May, we consult with councils on the assignment of a portion of devolved income tax raised in Scotland – reducing local authorities’ reliance on funding from central government and making councils more accountable to local people. It is estimated that when the planned changes take effect, 75 per cent of local government funding will be locally grounded.
Commenting, Michael Russell said:
“The reform to council tax announced by the First Minister this week meets the key tests of making the system fairer, more progressive and locally empowering, in line with the principles agreed by all the parties on the Commission on Local Tax Reform.
“The progressive plans will see three quarters of households in Argyll and Bute paying the same or even less, while those at the top will pay a bit more in order to fund a major new investment in our local schools.
“We’ll also see new support for low-income families – supporting 140,000 children and their families to the tune of an average of £173 per year – and additional protection for low-income households in higher bands, many of whom are pensioners.
“While Labour and the Tories are planning to hike taxes across the board, hurting even the lowest-income workers in Argyll and Bute, the SNP in government has chosen to take a different approach – asking those at the top to pay a bit more, while providing additional financial relief to low income families. This isn’t just the right approach to take – but the only progressive option and other parties claiming to favour fair taxation should back these plans.
“I also welcome the move to consult with councils on a bold plan to assign a portion of devolved income tax – which would be a welcome move in empowering Scotland’s local authorities, incentivising councils to support economic growth and in making Argyll and Bute Council more accountable to local people.
“Overall, these plans will protect the vast majority of household incomes in Argyll and Bute, support investment in local schools and make local taxation both fairer and more accountable. These are proposals I will be proud to campaign on – and opposition politicians in Argyll and Bute should join me in backing these fair, progressive reforms.”