Wed 5 Oct, 2016

Today's amendment to the Finance Secretary's motion would have put on record the serious concerns expressed across the political parties, local government itself and the public service unions.  Andy Wightman MSP

Andy Wightman MSP, Local Government spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (5 Oct) pledged to keep up the campaign to scrap the discredited Council Tax following today's attempt to put on record concerns surrounding the Scottish Government's "timid" changes.

At Holyrood's Local Government committee, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay tabled a motion recommending that Parliament agrees to increase the upper bands of Council Tax. Mr Wightman put forward an amendment, noting:

-the council tax base has not been updated since 1991 and that many properties are wrongly banded
-concerns about the appropriation of local funds for national priorities
-concerns about communication regarding the forthcoming changes
-the recommendation of the Commission on Local Tax Reform that "The present Council Tax system must end".

SNP and Tory MSPs on the committee voted against Andy's amendment, with only Andy and Labour MSP Elaine Smith voting in favour. As a result, the Finance Secretary's motion goes forward unamended for a full vote in Parliament at a later date.

Andy Wightman MSP said:

"The timid tweaks to Council Tax will undermine local democracy by appropriating funds from local authorities for national purposes. By refusing to revalue properties, the Government are compounding the fact that most properties are in the wrong band and paying the wrong amount.

"Today's amendment to the Finance Secretary's motion - the first such amendment in Parliament's history, I'm told - would have put on record the serious concerns expressed across the political parties, local government itself and the public service unions. 

"Greens will continue to encourage the Scottish Government to work with others to scrap the Council Tax and bring in a fairer, more reliable and locally accountable alternative."

 

The finance secretary's motion was:
That the Local Government and Communities Committee recommends the Council Tax (Substitution of Proportion) (Scotland) Order 2016 [draft] be approved.

This was carried with 4 votes for (Labour & SNP), 2 against (Con) and 1 abstention (Green).

The amendment brought by Andy Wightman would have added:
But, in so doing, notes concerns in evidence to the committee that the council tax base has not been updated since 1991 and that many properties are wrongly banded and will therefore be liable to inaccurate council tax bills; further notes concerns about the appropriation of local council tax receipts for Scottish spending priorities, non-statutory rate-capping and the adequacy of communication regarding forthcoming changes to council tax, and recognises the primary recommendation of the Commission on Local Tax Reform that "The present Council Tax system must end".

This was defeated with 5 votes against (SNP & Con) and 2 for (Green & Lab).

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