3 May 2015

Commission seeks views on the future of local taxation

The Scottish people are today being asked to make their views known on the future of local taxation in Scotland as the independent, cross-party body set up to look at fairer ways of funding local government launches a call for evidence.

The Commission on Local Tax Reform is asking members of the public and interested organisations to respond to either its formal call for evidence – for those wishing to offer a detailed view of the present Council Tax and the alternatives – or by completing a short online survey.

Both the on-line questionnaire –intended to take no more than 5 minutes – and the call for evidence are available via the Commission’s website – www.localtaxcommission.scot.

The Commission, which is co-chaired by Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Councillor David O’Neill, President of COSLA, began work earlier this year.  It is expected to report to the Scottish Government and COSLA this autumn, in advance of the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

Marco Biagi said:

“This unique Commission sees experts and practitioners together with MSPs and representatives from local government who are working across the political divide to examine alternative systems of local taxation.

The present Council Tax is universally acknowledged as being unfair, but our public services depend upon the £2 billion of funding it delivers each year. The views of Scotland’s 2.4 million Council Tax payers are fundamental to our understanding of other potential systems and their likely success.

Nearly every household in Scotland is liable for Council Tax, but nobody has ever asked the public how they might best contribute to the funding of public services.”

 David O’Neill added:

Today we have started a process to find out what it would take to develop a better system of local taxation in Scotland.  There is a lot to play for and that’s why we are asking new questions about what happens now and what the future might be.  I know that these issues really matter to people across Scotland, and we’ll be listening closely to what we hear. 

Over the coming months we’ll be putting in place many other ways in which people can meet us and share their ideas- in fact, we want to hear about how we should do this.”

Respondents can complete the on-line questionnaire at any time, while replies to the formal call for evidence are required by Monday 22nd June.


For further information contact 3×1 Public Relations on 0141 221 0707 / 0131 225 7700


Notes to editors:

Members of the Commission are:

  • Councillor Susan Aitken, SNP Local Government Convenor and Leader of SNP Group, Glasgow City Council;
  • Councillor Catriona Bhatia, Leader of Liberal Democrat Group and Deputy Leader, Scottish Borders Council;
  • Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment (Co-Chair);
  • Councillor Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Leader of the Independent Group at COSLA;
  • Councillor Rhondda Geekie, Leader Of East Dunbartonshire Council and Leader of Labour Group at COSLA;
  • Dr Angela O’Hagan, Research Fellow in the Institute for Society and Social Justice Research and Convenor of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group;
  • Isobel d’Inverno, Convenor of the Tax Committee of the Law Society of Scotland and Director of Corporate Tax at Brodies LLP;
  • Mary Kinninmonth, Manager of Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau and Member of Citizens Advice Scotland Board of Directors;
  • Dr Jim McCormick, Scotland Advisor, Joseph Rowntree Foundation;
  • Councillor David O’Neill, President of COSLA (Co-Chair);
  • Don Peebles, Head of CIPFA Scotland;
  • Alex Rowley, MSP for Cowdenbeath and Shadow Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment;
  • Andy Wightman, Writer and Researcher, representing the Scottish Green Party.

The Commission’s Remit is:

To identify and examine alternatives that would deliver a fairer system of local taxation to support the funding of services delivered by local government. In doing so, the Commission will consider:

  • The impacts on individuals, households and inequalities in income and wealth;
  • The wider macro-economic, demographic and fiscal impacts, including housing market and land use;
  • The administrative and collection arrangements that apply, including the costs of transition and subsequent operation;
  • Potential timetables for transition, with due regard to the 2017 Local Government elections.
  • The impacts on supporting local democracy, including on the financial accountability and autonomy of Local Government;
  • The revenue raising capacity of the alternatives at both local authority and national levels.

In conducting its work, the Commission will engage with communities across Scotland to assess public perceptions of the emerging findings and to reflect this evidence in its final analysis and recommendations.