COUNCIL TAX SYSTEM MUST END: GREENS WELCOME REPORT
Andy Wightman, local government spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today welcomed the recommendations of the Commission on Local Tax Reform, the first of which is: "The present Council Tax system must end."
Reform of local tax and democracy has been a consistent priority for the Scottish Greens, with Andy Wightman, renowned for his expertise in these issues, writing a substantial report for the Green MSPs in 2014.
The council tax has been frozen by the Scottish Government since 2008, removing local flexibility and forcing councils to downgrade or cut services. Participation in local government elections in Scotland is amongst the worst in Europe.
Today's report by the Commission says council tax is "discredited", local government should have a greater choice of taxes, and that Land Value Tax - a longstanding policy of the Scottish Greens - is "promising" and "further work should be done". It recommends transitional relief to enable taxpayers to adjust to any new systems brought in.
Andy Wightman, Scottish Green MSP candidate for Lothian in 2016 and a member of the Commission on Local Tax Reform, said:
"It is vital that the next Parliament puts in place an enduring, stable and flexible fiscal framework for local government that provides fiscal autonomy and enhanced democracy.
"All political parties seek representation on local councils and all should have an interest in ensuring that they are able to offer genuine, costed choices to the electorate in 2017. The Scottish Green Party will consider the findings of the Commission carefully and bring forward proposals in our manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election.
"For too long, local government has been neglected and marginalised in debate about the democratic future of Scotland. The council tax freeze has cost over £2.5 billion that could, instead, have been invested in public services.
"The freeze has, in addition, undermined local democracy by forcing councils between a rock and a hard place. This interference in local fiscal autonomy would be unconstitutional in countries such as Germany and must end.
"The recommendations of the Commission are welcome. The onus is now on all political parties to work together to agree a programme of reform that puts local government taxation, funding and democratic freedoms on a new footing and allows local communities to have a far greater say in how local services are delivered and paid for."