NOWHERE KNOWS BETTER than Moray that council tax can be a big deal – our current Tory/Independent administration just recently proposed a whopping 18% increase on council tax bills in order to prevent cuts. I could never have voted for that.
And before my time, the last SNP Moray council administration increased council tax far more in their years in charge than anything anyone has considered since. So I completely understand the council tax freeze was a welcome relief for Moray’s families.
Let’s be honest though, not a single Moray family ever believed their council tax would be frozen for the whole time the SNP were in office. That’s because people can do the maths. If what you have coming in stays the same over almost a decade but the cost of what you’re paying out goes up and up and up – something’s going to give.
And we know what did give. Vital public services. Libraries were closed. Bus routes were cut. Classroom assistant numbers were slashed. Schools were on the brink of closure. We’ve been through some serious years of pain in Moray because of an unfunded SNP council tax freeze and Tory austerity handed down without mercy by the Scottish Government.
It didn’t have to be like this of course. The SNP were right in 2007 to say that council tax needed reform. Just like they were right to stand against austerity last year – but one year on, they’ve change course and want to continue the Tory cuts. And nine years on from being elected they have failed to abolish the council tax.
We will not make that mistake. Labour has proposed an end to the unfair council tax. It is outdated and not fit for purpose. Instead, we’ll replace it with a local property tax where the vast majority of Moray homes will pay less than they do now. Across Scotland, 80% of homes will pay less with only the most wealthy 20% paying more. That’s fair – ask all of the experts.
Now, just the other day I got a long email from someone who was furious that he would have to pay a bit more for his £450,000 home if Labour gets in. He wants to keep paying the same. And sure, the SNP and the Tories might be fine with that. But I’m not.
I didn’t come into politics to make people in smaller homes pay through the nose to help those with the biggest homes avoid paying their fair share. Public services cost money and it makes far more sense for those with the most, to pay the most.
That is the fairest way. That is the sensible way. That is the Labour way. The alternative is we ask those with the least to pay even more. I just can’t see why anyone could suggest that is remotely fair.
So yes, we’re being bold and we’re being honest about will pay more and who will pay less. We’re going to keep the promise the SNP broke. We will end the unfair council tax.
Most people in Moray will be better off because we’ve asked those with more to pay more. I’m not ashamed of that.
If it loses me votes from wealthy households, then so be it. But you can count on this – I’ll sleep easy at night knowing we are trying to do the right thing by people who struggling to make ends meet and striving to get on.
This is the fairest way forward for Moray. People just need to vote for it.
All Moray candidates in the 2016 Parliamentary Election plus list candidates for the Green Party and an Independent were invited to submit their views on one day each week until Friday, April 29 – they will then be invited to sum-up their cases on Sunday, May 1 in a final address on insideMoray before the election.
Candidates for the Banffshire and Buchan constituency that includes part of Moray around Buckie have also been invited to submit their views – two accepted, two did not reply – and none have actually submitted any article.