Humza Yousaf’s proposal to freeze council tax in Scotland has been labelled ‘deplorable’

The Scottish first minister has announced plans to halt council tax bills in a bid to help residents struggling with the current cost-of-living. 

During his keynote speech on Sunday, Mr Yousaf surprisingly unveiled his plans. Outlining that Scots were filled with ‘dread’ as bills continue to soar, the first minister said: ‘We can’t stop all the bills rising, but we can act. I’ve considered carefully what steps we can take to help.

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‘Council tax bills in Scotland are already hundreds of pounds a year lower than they are in England.

‘We’re committed to fundamentally reforming local taxation, and we will re-energise our work to do that. We have consulted on what level the council tax should be next year.

‘And conference, we have reached our decision. I can announce to the people of Scotland that, next year, your council tax will be frozen.’

However, the news has not landed well with local governments across the country. COSLA, the voice of local government in Scotland, described the move as ‘deplorable’ and said it had no prior warning.

‘The announcement of a council tax freeze as we said…was made completely without reference to local government and there is no agreement to freeze council tax next year, the decision to freeze council tax is one which can only be made by councils,’ COSLA said in a statement. ‘Our cross-party group leaders held an emergency meeting…on the back of the announcement and there is real anger at the way this has been handled and what it puts at risk.’

The statement continued: ‘We deplore the way the announcement was made and its substance, both of which fly in the face of the Verity House Agreement which we all recently signed.

‘It has been shown that previous council tax freezes have been regressive, having no impact for the poorest in society and eroding the council tax base, compounding councils’ ongoing underfunding.

‘We will explore the implications arising and what the Scottish government might propose when we meet with the deputy first minister – but we are clear that local taxation and particularly council tax should be left for democratically elected councils to determine.’

The Verity House Agreement is a partnership signed by COSLA and the Scottish government under Mr Yousaf which outlines the relationship between the two.

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