Our proposals highlight how unfair the Government’s Council Tax plans are

The Scottish Greens today (22 Sept) outline alternative proposals to amend Council Tax to highlight how regressive and unfair the Scottish Government’s plans are.

Lothian MSP and prominent local democracy campaigner Andy Wightman will say in Holyrood’s Reforming Local Taxation debate that the outdated system means that most properties are in the wrong band. 

Ahead of this year’s Holyrood election, the Greens proposed a gradual move towards a locally-controlled Residential Property Tax based on up to date values with a system of reliefs and deferrals. By contrast, the Scottish Government is proposing to increase the upper bands of Council Tax and direct how the additional revenue is used.

Andy Wightman MSP, the Scottish Greens’ local government spokesperson, said:

“Greens believe the government’s package of reform is timid and fails to meet the ambitions set out by the Commission on Local Tax Reform whose first recommendation was that ‘the present council tax system must end’. It’s shocking that is has taken ten months to debate the Commission’s findings.

“After nine years of the council tax freeze there is now cross-party consensus that the system is broken. Bold change is needed. It’s time for a fair local tax.

“While our proposals are to scrap the discredited tax and replace it with a Residential Property Tax, today I am publishing an alternative Statutory Instrument – the Council Tax (Substitution of Proportion and Valuation_ (Scottish Green Party) (Scotland) Order 2016 – that demonstrates how the system can be made substantially fairer by more closely reflecting property valuations and by mandating a revaluation. At the very least any reforms require a revaluation given current bills are based on values a quarter of a century old. And rather than sticking to just eight bands, why not have a greater number of bands so that properties of similar value aren’t paying wildly different charges?

“Councils are being denied their right to vary tax locally and spend revenues on local priorities. Earlier this week, I outlined why the package being proposed by Scottish Ministers is in breach of international law, namely the European Charter of Local Self-Government.”