(CSPP) – Interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland’s Newsdrive programme (1:08:40), CSPP Chair Richard Kerley yesterday gave his analysis of Moray Council’s proposal to raise the Council Tax by 18% this year. The proposal, intended to protect services from spending cuts, would see Moray Council break with the Scottish Government’s council tax freeze, in place since 2007. Several other councils are also reported to be considering similar measures.
Professor Kerley, an expert in local government, said he was “not surprised” that such a move was being proposed by a council in Scotland, after the Commission on Local Tax Reform – convened jointly by the Scottish Government and COSLA – recommended an end to the council tax altogether. Regarding Moray Council specifically, the CSPP Chair observed that there are difficulties in providing some services in the region due to demographic and geographic factors, and that the tax rise represented a “declaration / negotiating point” on the issue.
On the issue of public reaction to the proposed tax hike, Professor Kerley stated that “it depends where you are and what it is you’re concerned about. I suspect that as with many of us in many parts of the country, there is always a willingness to say we don’t want public services reduced, [but this is] not quite matched by a willingness to pay increased taxes”.
Nonetheless, reflecting the CSPP’s submission to the Commission on Local Tax Reform, Professor Kerley gave his opinion that the council tax freeze had “gone on for too long” and that it would be politically difficult to end it – making Moray Council an interesting case. He added that it was possible that other councils could follow suit, given that similar moves have also occurred in England by administrations led by parties of all colours.