The SNP’s decision to freeze the Council Tax for the next five years will ensure a fair deal for families and individuals in East Kilbride. It is the right decision at this time of increase pressure on family budgets and will save the average household over £1,200.
Between 1997 and 2007, Labour increased the Council Tax by a massive 60%. But, since the SNP took office in 2007, Council Tax has been one of the few bills that hasn’t risen.
At the same time, the SNP have been able to make Scotland’s budget work harder. We have found the resources for priority issues including putting 1000 more police on the streets, increasing support for free personal care for the elderly, and driving down waiting times in the NHS.
As we go forward, our plan will mean an SNP Scottish Government covering the cost of a Council Tax increase. Councils will still get the extra money they need to support local services. Instead of coming from hard-pressed households, the money will come direct from the SNP government.
We will pay for the continuing freeze by reducing the cost of government. For example, action already taken to cut the number of quangos will save £125 million by 2015. And our action to reduce the cost of senior management will release £100 million by 2015.
Our decision to extend the Council Tax freeze throughout the next Parliament means that Scottish families will have a stake in our efforts to make government work even better.
By contrast with the SNP’s principled approach to the Council Tax – we believe it is unfair and should be abolished – Labour has no idea what position to take on financing local government.
· In March 2009 Iain Gray announced that a working group had been set up by Andy Kerr to study the issue.
· August 2009 it was reported that the policy ‘would be ‘revealed in the coming months’.
· August 2010 a Labour MSP predicted that details would emerge in October at their Oban conference.
· October 2010, Michael McMahon, Labour’s Local Government spokesman said:
“But conference, currently the SNP is holding a gun to councillors’ heads in order to achieve a council tax freeze.
“We have to remove it because we know that local government is at the frontline of the SNP and Tory cuts and we have to discuss with them as genuine partners, how they can best defend the services on which we all depend.”
· December 2010 Labour says that its ‘plans will be published in our manifesto’.
· April 2011, Labour endorses Council Tax Freeze, but only for two more years.
Linda Fabiani said:
“Before this sudden conversion, Labour consistently opposed freezing the Council Tax.
“Despite knowing that the tax is felt most heavily by families who struggle to pay it, Labour is determined to see the tax remain. Unlike Labour, the SNP want to see it abolished and replaced with a fairer tax.
“Andy Kerr was tasked in 2009 to come up with an alternative to the Council Tax, but failed to do so.
“Labour claims to support fairness, but while pressing the SNP to end the Council Tax Freeze, they opposed the large retailers levy that would have raised £30 million from some of the most profitable companies in the UK to support local communities.”