Council Tax credit approved

Inverclyde residents will receive a reduction in their Council Tax bills after councillors agreed a one-off credit for 2024/25 financial year.

Members of Inverclyde Council’s policy and resources committee today, Tuesday 26 March 2024, agreed to approve a credit which will be paid into Council tax accounts to offset the 8.2 per cent increase in Council Tax that was approved as part of the budget last month.

Following negotiations with the Scottish Government, the council has secured approximately £2.9 million of additional funding that was earmarked for Inverclyde towards a Council Tax freeze.

The policy and resources committee agreed to pass that money straight onto residents as a one-off credit to offset the Council Tax increase this year.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council and convener of policy and resources, said: “While I would far rather the Council had the freedom to spend the additional £2.9m as we saw fit, I am pleased that after intense negotiations with the Deputy First Minister and government officials we have been able to reach an agreement with the Scottish Government that means this money will come to Inverclyde rather than be spent on other Scottish Government priorities.

“Last month, the council exercised its democratic right to increase Council Tax as part of a two-year budget to minimise cuts to jobs and services and fulfil our legal obligation to set a balanced budget.

“That was the right decision at the time and was taken in the best interests of the council and the people of Inverclyde.

“What that meant was that we did not accept the government’s original offer to implement a Council Tax freeze.

“However, more money has since become available towards a Council Tax freeze, which would not have been offered had we and two other small councils not made a stand, and we lobbied the government for that money because it was earmarked specifically for Inverclyde and belongs to the people of Inverclyde who pay their taxes.

"I really do hope that the Scottish Government learns a lesson from this year’s budget process. They may have secured a national Council Tax freeze but that has come at a significant price.

"They have badly damaged their relationship with COSLA and local government more generally. They have forced Councils and Integrated Joint Boards to implement significant budget cuts and they have pushed Councils one step closer to effective bankruptcy.

"The First Minister should give an absolute commitment now that there will be no more freezes or caps on Council Tax for the remaining life of this Scottish Parliament and that he will now strictly adhere to the principles of the Verity House Agreement.”

Around 29,000 Council Tax accounts will now receive the credit.

New bills will be calculated and distributed during May to households by letter or online, depending on how they have opted to receive their Council Tax bills.

Approximately 2,300 of Inverclyde’s 40,000 households are already exempt from paying Council Tax and a further 9,000 do not pay any more if there are increases as they are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction.

As Council Tax rates have been agreed for 2024/25 in line with legislation and bills already issued, residents will initially pay more until the credit kicks in when payments will reduce.