Members of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee (FPT) received a report this week (Tuesday 29 August) on the contents of the Joint Scottish Government and COSLA Consultation on a Fairer Council Tax.
Elected Members agreed that council tax has been subject to criticism and concern due largely to its regressive nature – when council tax charges are expressed as a proportion of property values, the tax rate is higher for lower value properties and lower for higher value properties.
The report stated that proposed changes to band-multipliers would only partially address the regressive nature of council tax.
After a lengthy discussion, Elected Members decided to respond to the consultation proposals, which would mean an increase in council tax in the 25 per cent highest-valued properties in the region that fall into council tax bands E to H – and to indicate that the Council does not support the proposals.
The Committee recognised that inflation and higher interest rates associated with the increased cost of living are affecting all households and accepted that the proposed changes would only increase these pressures for those whose properties fall into council tax bands E to H.
Chair of FPT Committee, Councillor Ivor Hyslop explained: “Although the proposals were designed to cover properties within the region with the highest value, we know that some families in these bands are in receipt of assistance because of low income.
“We recognise that some people will be asset rich but cash poor and the increase in council tax would provide additional burdens on these families and individuals.
“Our Council will not knowingly disadvantage anyone in our region, so the decision was made to not support the proposals within the consultation.”
A motion was agreed by the committee that stated that one in four households in Dumfries and Galloway – including larger families and older residents – would be subject to this rise, whether or not they are at risk from poverty or struggling with cost-of-living increases.
The motion went on to say that data from the Office for National Statistics shows that weekly earnings in Dumfries and Galloway are 8.4% below the Scottish average.
Vice-Chair, Councillor Richard Marsh said: “Further review and potential reform of the current council tax system is required, but an increase in taxation on higher value homes is not the answer to the overall problem and this would only provide additional financial impact to low-earning and large families.
“Members from across the political spectrum voted at committee not to support the proposals within the consultation. The multiplier measures being proposed do nothing to address the requirement for a more progressive form of taxation and we will continue to look into this further.”
To read the full report go to: COMMITTEE REPORT TEMPLATE & GUIDANCE (moderngov.co.uk)