Inverclyde Council Halts Tax Increase After Clash With Scottish Gov

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The Inverclyde Council has made an announcement that it will not be raising council tax, a reversal from its earlier stance which had sparked a debate with the Scottish Government on the matter.

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Residents of Inverclyde can expect to see a decrease in their council tax bills as the council has agreed to issue a one-time credit for the fiscal year 2024-2025. This decision comes after the council had previously argued in favor of a tax hike last month, explaining that the increase would help avoid cuts to jobs and essential services while ensuring a balanced budget.

The policy and resources committee of Inverclyde Council, on a Tuesday meeting, decided to sanction a credit that will counteract the 8.2% council tax rise that was part of last month’s budget agreement.

After a series of talks with the Scottish Government, the council managed to secure an extra funding of about £2.9 million, which had been initially allocated for Inverclyde, to support a Council Tax standstill.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leading the Inverclyde Council and chair of the policy and resources committee, commented: “Albeit I’d prefer the council had the liberty to allocate the additional £2.9m at our discretion, I’m satisfied that following strenuous negotiations with the deputy First Minister and government representatives, we’ve managed to strike a deal with the Scottish Government. This ensures the funds will benefit Inverclyde rather than being diverted to other government agendas.

“Last month, the council rightfully exercised its democratic privilege to raise council tax as part of a biennial budget strategy aimed at reducing cuts to jobs and services, while adhering to our legal duty to maintain a balanced budget.

“At that juncture, it was the appropriate choice and was made with the best interest of the council and Inverclyde’s residents in mind.

“It meant that we didn’t agree to the Government’s initial proposal for a council tax freeze.”

He further remarked: “Nevertheless, additional funds have now been made available for a Council Tax freeze, which wouldn’t have been on the table if we, along with two other minor councils, hadn’t challenged the status quo. We advocated for these funds because they were designated for Inverclyde and rightfully belong to the tax-paying citizens here.

“I earnestly hope that the Scottish Government takes away a valuable lesson from this year’s budget proceedings. They may have achieved a nation-wide council tax freeze, but it came at a hefty cost.

“Their dealings have significantly strained relations with Cosla and the broader local government. They’ve compelled councils and integrated joint boards to enact substantial budget reductions, nudging Councils ever closer to the brink of insolvency.

“The First Minister should now firmly pledge that there won’t be further freezes or limitations on council tax for the duration of this Scottish Parliament and that he will strictly abide by the tenets of the Verity House Agreement.”

Approximately 29,000 council tax accounts are set to benefit from the newly introduced credit. Both Cosla and the Scottish Government have been approached for their remarks.

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