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21st February 2017

Labour Should Stop The Politics And Get On With Funding Local Services

SNP Councillor and Finance Spokesperson Gerry McLaughlan has hit out at comments made by the Tory/Labour Leader of Stirling Council, Johanna Boyd.

In a recent press release from the Stirling Labour Party, Cllr Boyd attacked the reforms to Council Tax that are have been set to ensure that local services are receive more sustainable funding whilst ensuring that those who can pay more do so.

People living in Council Tax bands E-H will see a gradual increase on the amount they pay to local authorities, whilst lower bands will not be affected by the reforms. Councils also have the power to increase Council Tax rates by a maximum of 3% so that more revenue can be raised whilst ensuring that increases are never again out of control.

This is after a decade of frozen Council Tax that save the average Scottish household around £1,500 in that time. As a result, the average Council Tax Bill in Scotland is around £380 less than in England.

Those in bands E-H on lower incomes or cannot afford to pay an increase will be protected by an extension of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

Commenting, Councillor Gerry McLaughlan said:

“Once again, Councillor Johanna Boyd’s bizarre rantings have landed her with egg on her face as she seems to be attacking a system of local tax reform that is set to be fairer and ensures that those with the broadest shoulders, bear the greater burden. It may have escaped the notice of Cllr Boyd and the Stirling Labour Party, but Labour MSPs in Holyrood voted in favour of the Scottish Government policy – perhaps she ought to have run her ‘open letter’ by her party’s own leadership beforehand.

“Nobody is arguing that the past five years have been financially challenging for local authorities as the pain of Tory-enforced austerity from Westminster continues to hurt services across the board. During this period of economic unease, families benefited from a Council Tax freeze that called a halt to the some 60% rise in some areas of Council Tax from before. However, now we are working to build a sustainable and fairer system of funding local services.

“The Labour Party comments are geared towards striking fear into those who cannot afford an increase to their Council Tax and irresponsibly fail to even mention protections for those on low incomes. If you earn below a certain threshold or have less than £16K in savings, you will be protected through an extension of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

“As we approach the 2017/18 budget decision at Stirling Council, it is high time that Labour stops playing politics and focuses on properly funding our local services for the people they are supposed to represent.”