Clarity needed about impact of proposed Council Tax changes on water bills

Andy Wightman MSP, Local Government spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today called for the Scottish Government to clarify whether its changes to Council Tax will also mean increased water bills for consumers.

At Holyrood's Local Government committee Mr Wightman highlighted the lack of public communication about the proposed increases to the upper bands of Council Tax, bands which are used to calculate charges for water and sewerage services. Scottish Water bills are collected by local authorities.

In response, Derek Yule, the Chair of Directors of Finance at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, said there was "uncertainty" about the effect on water bills by adjusting the Council Tax multiplier.

Andy Wightman MSP said:

"The Government's tweaks to Council Tax will come at the same time as rates themselves will rise and many householders remain unaware of big changes coming their way in just six months' time. Now we learn that there is no clarity about the effect on people's water bills, which are collected by councils and based on a property's Council Tax band.

"There are serious implications for local government and for how will these changes will be communicated. The Commission on Local Tax Reform heard evidence from Citizens Advice Scotland that water and sewerage charges are poorly communicated. It is vital that Government provides clarity about the impact of its proposed Council Tax changes on people’s water bills.

"It underlines the need for all parties in this five-year Parliament to work together to scrap the discredited Council Tax and gradually replace it with something fair, stable and locally accountable. Discussions should clearly consider the basis for future water bills, as a calculation based on 25 year old property values is simply bizarre."