MORAY MAY HAVE set its budget for this year – but the national furore that was sparked when the local authority sought to break the Scottish Government council tax freeze has continued unabated.
This week one of Scotland’s senior church representatives hit out at the SNP policy, saying that the nine-year freeze was the “politics of fairyland”, calling on political parties campaigning for the forthcoming Scottish elections to “set Scotland’s councils free”.
However, the SNP have reacted to the call from the moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Rev David Robertson, by confirming that they intend to retain the council tax freeze until a way can be found to replace the local taxation system.
Rev Robertson entered a debate that was started when Moray Council sought to increase council tax by 18% – sparking a national debate on the issue and, ultimately, a crack-down by the Scottish Government who said that doing so would trigger millions being withheld from the local authority budget.
Mr Robertson said that councils are now in crisis, adding: “The council tax freeze worked well as a temporary populist measure, but to have it as an indefinite policy in a time of austerity is the economics of fairyland.
“In the upcoming Scottish parliamentary elections I wonder if any of the political parties will be prepared to set Scotland’s councils free.”
In response a Scottish Government spokesman repeated that they had funded the council tax freeze to the tune of almost £500million since 2008 “to ensure local authorities are able to continue to provide the essential services they are responsible for”.
Earlier this week Moray Council’s administration passed their budget proposals which dropped the threat of a council tax increase and instead will use over £6million from their £23million reserves to balance the books.