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by Louise Wilson
17 October 2023
Council tax to be frozen next year announces Humza Yousaf in SNP conference speech

Council tax to be frozen next year announces Humza Yousaf in SNP conference speech

The Scottish Government is to freeze council tax for the next year, First Minister Humza Yousaf has confirmed.

The move has already been criticised by the Scottish Greens, the SNP’s partners in government, who have expressed concern about the knock-on impact on local services.

Party leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater were told about the announcement this morning.

The Scottish Government had been consulting on increasing council tax for more expensive homes. It would have seen an increase of between £140 to £780 for those living in properties in band E-H.

Yousaf confirmed this plan had been scrapped at the SNP’s conference in Aberdeen.

He said: “I can announce to the people of Scotland that next year, your council tax will be frozen. That’s the SNP delivering for people when they need it the most.”

The Scottish Greens, who favour an overhaul of the council tax system to be replaced with a different system of local taxation, have warned the freeze could mean frontline public services are not properly funded.

Finance spokesperson Ross Greer said: “Green MSPs will now work with our government colleagues in the SNP to work through the details, ensure that their decision is sustainably financed and that the most vulnerable people in our communities do not see the services they rely on being underfunded as a result.

“The first minister is right to want to support those who are struggling the most through the cost-of-living crisis, but the way to do that is to completely replace the deeply unfair council tax with a more progressive system.”

Cosla also confirmed it had been unaware of the move before it was announced. A spokesperson said: "This has longer term implications for all councils right across the country, at a time when we know there are acute financial pressures, and where we are jointly looking at all local revenue raising options.

“We will need to consider the implications for Cosla and local government with our members when we get more of the detail."

Yousaf also announced Scottish Government plans to issue its owns bonds to help fund the building of key infrastructure. This power was first devolved to the Scottish Parliament in the 2016 Scotland Act but has never been used.

A doubling of investment in Scottish arts and culture over the next five years was also announced by the first minister, expected to result in more than £100m more for the sector.

That follows concern about government plans to reduce the arts budget, including a cut to Creative Scotland’s budget.

The First Minister also announced:

  • £100m per year over the next three years to tackle NHS waiting lists
  • £400,000 for the campaign to rejuvenate Aberdeen’s Union Street
  • £500m to support the creation of a supply chain for the offshore wind sector
  • £500,000 for a ‘Fund for Leaving’, to support women at risk of homelessness should they choose to leave abusive partners
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