Council Tax Changes Not Our Doing, Says Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader

‘We’re only following orders’ – that is the message from Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson on council tax changes that will come into force in April this year.

Changes to the way council tax is applied across a range of bands higher than D will take place from 1 April 2017. This is a Scottish Government decision and there has been no local discretion granted to local authorities across Scotland, meaning that our Council must implement these changes as it is a requirement of the Scottish Government.
Another charge that’s on the increase is water and wastewater. Scottish Water has taken the decision to increase water and wastewater charges by 1.6% for the 2017/18 financial year. As a local authority, we have a duty to collect these charges on behalf of Scottish Water.
Dumfries and Galloway Council will set its budget for 2017/18 on 28 February. As a region, we have had the lowest rate of council tax in mainland Scotland for a number of years – with an average Band D property costing as much as £100 less than the national average. Local authorities can raise council tax by a maximum of 3% after a freeze was lifted last year, but this is not something that can be decided until the Full Council meets on 28 February.
Councillor Nicholson said ahead of the charges coming into force;
“It is important that our residents appreciate that these increased charges in relation to band multipliers and water are not the decision of our Council. We are simply doing what we’re told from a statutory viewpoint, and have a duty to collect the increases that have been implemented by the Scottish Government, and by Scottish Water. Our Council under my administration has been at the forefront of driving change in relation to making living in Dumfries and Galloway more affordable, by implementing the Living Wage and pushing forward our Anti-Poverty Strategy.
We will face tough choices when we set the budget next week. This is largely due to the savings we have to make, like every other local authority across Scotland due to the cutting of funding from the Government. Council Tax monies received by our Council allow us to empty bins on a weekly basis, it allows us to operate our schools to a high and consistent standard and it allows us to protect our most vulnerable people. I would like to assure all our residents in Dumfries and Galloway that no decision will be made lightly, and we will be acting in the best interests of our residents when we set the budget on 28 February.”
If you currently receive relief on your council tax payments then you do not need to re-apply for this relief for the 2017/18 year., If you think you’re entitled to receive a relief on the amount you pay, then visit www.dumgal.gov.uk/benefits to find out if you are eligible to receive a council tax reduction, or give us a call on 030 33 33 3005.
Council Tax bills will be issued in mid-March and will include the increased charges outlined above.

The updated cuts to the council’s budget by the Scottish Government are set out below:

Scottish Government Draft budget – Revised budget proposal
Grant Reduction             £12.451m            £8.555m
Budget Uprating             £7.407m             £7.407m
2017/18 Funding Gap   £19.858m           £15.962m

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