22 November 2015
Two-thirds of those surveyed say that the current system of Council Tax should be replaced, with a reformed or alternative system of local taxation based according to income and set according to the priorities of local communities.
Those were among the high level findings of an online survey set up by the Commission on Local Tax Reform to gauge public perceptions of local government finance reform.
The Commission – established jointly by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), is to publish its final report in the coming weeks.
While a majority of the nearly 4,500 respondents surveyed felt that the current system of Council Tax was simple and easy to pay and understand, they also said that the system was unfair and failed to protect those who can’t afford to pay.
The survey also found that younger people (16-34), low income households and single people were more likely to have negative views on Council Tax than those on higher incomes.
Opinion was mixed on what an alternative system should look like, with a hybrid tax (based on a mix of property and land value, wealth and income) and a review of the existing council tax banding system among the options highlighted in order to create a fairer, more progressive system of local taxation.
The survey’s findings will be included alongside the responses received by the Commission to its formal call for evidence, oral evidence sessions, review of international examples and public listening events that took place over the summer.
Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment and Co-Chair of the Commission said:
“The views of the public have been at the heart of our work as a Commission and the findings of the online survey are a welcome addition to the wealth of evidence from home and abroad that we have considered over the course of our deliberations.
“There is clear consensus from those that we have heard from – whether through this survey, our call for evidence and the public events that have taken place – that the current system of council tax, while highly visible, is in urgent need of reform.
“Ensuring that as many people as possible have had the opportunity to engage in our work will add weight and credibility to our findings when we report.”
Councillor David O’Neill, President of COSLA and Commission co-chair added:
“Each and every one of us is affected by the way we pay for vital local services so the views of those who have responded to our online survey will have a great deal of resonance as we formalise our findings.
“We want to make sure that as many people as possible have had their chance to make their views known, with our forthcoming findings paving the way for an informed debate on the decisions that we will need to take as a country in order to fund local government spending.”
Note to Editors:
The Commission ran an on-line survey from May to September 2015. A total of 4,492 responses were received which provided an indication of opinions from those who proactively chose to opt in – it was not intended or designed to be representative of the whole of Scotland. However, these processes helped us hugely to understand the scale of the issues which a new local tax system must address.