Holy­rood rais­ing tax bills

Rutherglen Reformer - - Writing For You -

the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s changes is that they aren’t be­ing straight with tax­pay­ers.

In­stead of us­ing their pow­ers to ad­just the Scot­tish rate of in­come tax, to bring in more money for the govern­ment to spend, they are forc­ing coun­cils to do the dirty work for them by dip­ping into peo­ple’s pock­ets.

To be clear: any ad­di­tional money col­lected by the 32 Scot­tish coun­cils, in­clud­ing South La­nark­shire, ef­fec­tively will be re­moved by the Scot­tish Govern­ment by cut­ting our an­nual grants by the same sum.

Scot­tish min­is­ters will then de­cide how and where in the coun­try the £100m is spent. They have in­di­cated that schools will be the pri­or­ity but we don’t yet know how the money would be al­lo­cated and what it will go on.

As read­ers will know, South La­nark­shire Coun­cil has al­ready re­built all our sec­ondary schools and we are nearly fin­ished our pri­mary schools mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme.

I es­ti­mate the changes mean the peo­ple of South La­nark­shire will hand al­most £6m more to the Scot­tish Govern­ment next year with no guar­an­tee on how much might come back.

I’m not sure why the Scot­tish Govern­ment even thinks it needs to raise this ex­tra tax from you. Af­ter all, we found out at the week­end that last year they had al­most £400m left over by the time they had fin­ished spend­ing their bud­get and that fol­lows a pat­tern of an­nual un­der­spends.

How­ever, they have de­cided they want to raise more taxes, they have de­cided to do that by in­creas­ing the over­all take from coun­cil tax and coun­cils have no choice other than to pass that on in the form of higher bills.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, for one, will con­tinue to help res­i­dents get any coun­cil tax re­duc­tions they are en­ti­tled to, es­pe­cially pen­sion­ers. We are also work­ing hard to avoid any other in­crease in coun­cil tax, even though the Scot­tish Govern­ment has now also scrapped the freeze.

As I say, I have no prob­lem with the prin­ci­ple of a fair and pro­gres­sive tax sys­tem which is used to pay for good pub­lic ser­vices but this change by the Scot­tish Govern­ment isn’t fair.

It is also not fair to you be­cause it breaks one of the ba­sic tenets of govern­ment: that tax­a­tion should be linked to rep­re­sen­ta­tion. In other words, the per­son who is ask­ing you to pay more tax should be ac­count­able for it at the bal­lot box.

I hope you all re­mem­ber that when your coun­cil tax bills come in next year and also when you come to cast your votes at elec­tions, start­ing with the coun­cil elec­tions in May.

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