Local authorities opt to increase council tax

Cath Johnstone
Cath Johnstone

Midlothian and Western Isles councils have become the first local authorities to announce a rise in council tax since 2006, following the Scottish Government’s decision to end the council tax freeze.

The nine year national freeze on the tax ends this year, with local authorities allowed to raise the bill by three per cent without losing Scottish Government funding.

Both Midlothian and Western Isles have opted to raise the charge by the full three per cent.

Midlothian Council leader, councillor Cath Johnstone, said: “Our priority in setting this year’s budget is to maintain key services and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. The additional funding for schools and for social care will be widely welcomed, particularly given the financial pressures councils are currently facing.

“Where we have had to make savings, we have been careful to protect those who depend most on the vital services the council provides.

“Given that we have been able to keep council tax levels frozen for so long, and despite the fact that those on the lowest incomes will be able to get help in meeting the costs, it was not an easy decision to increase charges,” added councillor Johnstone.

“However the additional income will help us maintain community facilities, local services and our support to local groups.”

Last week it was revealed that Midlothian and Western Isles councils will be awarded an extra £2.57 million and £1.34m respectively over the next year as part of the Scottish budget process.

Edinburgh and Borders councils are expected to announce a three per cent rise on Thursday.

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