No Council Tax deal after talks

TALKS between the leader of Inverclyde Council and the Deputy First Minister to find a Council Tax compromise have ended without a deal being agreed.

Councillor Stephen McCabe and Shona Robison MSP, who is also the Scottish Government’s finance secretary, met this morning, Friday 8 March 2024, to discuss Council Tax.

At a special meeting last week, the council agreed to increase Council Tax by 8.2 per cent in 24/25 and a provisional figure of six per cent in 25/26 to help deliver a balanced budget and minimise cuts to jobs and services.

In doing so, the council declined the Scottish Government’s funding offer to implement a Council Tax freeze in 24/25.

Following the special budget meeting, the council leader wrote to the Deputy First Minister to offer a compromise by giving a rebate to Council Tax payers to ensure that people in Inverclyde received a share of the money offered by the Scottish Government which is earmarked for Inverclyde.

However, the proposal was rejected at today’s meeting.

Councillor McCabe said: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Deputy First Minister, but I am deeply disappointed that she continues to disrespect the Council’s democratic decision to raise Council Tax, which we believe is in the interests of the residents of Inverclyde.

“I am also disappointed that she has rejected the eminently reasonable compromise I put forward of a one-off Council Tax discount for 2024/25, which would effectively achieve a freeze for the next 12 months.

“I will now pursue the Council’s share of the £62.7m of the funding the Deputy First Minister has now confirmed is available following the UK Spring Budget through COSLA. All Councils should be entitled to a share of this funding irrespective of the decision they took on Council Tax.”

The decision to increase Council Tax by 8.2 per cent in 24/25 means the Band D level will increase £117.24 to £1,547.01 – or an extra £2.25 a week.

The average weekly increase for the remaining 28,700 households is £1.99.

For those living in Band A properties (46 per cent of households) the weekly increase is £1.50 and for those in Band B (16 per cent of households) the increase is £1.75.

Around 28 per cent of households in Inverclyde will not pay any more in Council Tax next year.

That is based on 2,300 of Inverclyde’s 40,000 households being exempt from Council Tax and 9,000 households do not pay any more when Council Tax is increased as they are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction.

The council had initially been facing an estimated £12.5m funding gap over the next two financial years.

The budget and Council Tax plans along with the use of council reserves meant the local authority was able to fulfil its legal obligation to set a balanced budget without the loss of jobs and minimal cuts to services.

The overall budget is worth almost £250m each year and a four-year £72m capital budget to fund one-off infrastructure costs was also agreed at the meeting.

More information about the budget and details about the compromise offer made by the council leader can both be found on the Inverclyde Council website or via the links in the Related Links section of this page.