14 December 2015
A cross party group of politicians and representatives from the financial, legal and advice sectors will today (Monday 14 December) call for an end to the present system of Council Tax.
The Commission on Local Tax Reform – established jointly by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) – will outline the conclusions and recommendations of its work in its report, Just Change: A New Approach to Local Taxation.
The Commission is also expected to set out a range of possible alternatives to the present Council Tax paid by 2.4 million households in Scotland, arguing that the prospect of reform is “an opportunity that must not be missed.”
The Commission’s report will set out the factual position associated with a range of different systems of local taxation, considering whether each of these would be fairer, more efficient, stable and how they might be implemented. The Commission will not advocate a single preferred alternative to the present Council Tax system, but will urge all parties to present their proposals for reform ahead of the 2016 election.
The report has been informed by a comprehensive programme of quantitative analysis to understand the relationships between property, land values and household incomes. This work was supported by a wide ranging programme of public engagement to help understand public attitudes towards the present Council Tax system and the potential alternatives.
Writing in the introduction to the report, the co-chairs of the Commission, Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment and Councillor David O’Neill, President of COSLA, will say “we do not advocate a single preferred alternative (to the present Council Tax) as that ultimately must be a political choice, but we do expect that Scotland will be offered alternative systems of local taxation in the Scottish Parliamentary election in May 2016.”
They will add: “Our intention is that this report serves to inform the design of those alternatives – by any political party – and most importantly, also helps the public understand the implications of the choices they are offered.”
In conducting its work, the Commission received nearly 5,000 pieces of evidence from a range of individuals and organisations. These included a formal written call for evidence, online questionnaire, oral evidence sessions and a series of public listening events held across Scotland.
The Commission also published academic research into international examples of local taxation and analyses of responses received by members of the public to its online questionnaire and written call for evidence.
For further information, please contact Chris Young at 3×1 Public Relations: T – 0141 221 0707 E: cyoung@3×1.com
Notes to editors:
Members of the Commission are:
- Councillor Susan Aitken, SNP Local Government Convenor and Leader of SNP Group, Glasgow City Council
- Jackie Baillie MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Finance, Constitution and Economy
- 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, Lecturer in Social and Public Policy at Glasgow Caledonian University 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, Trustee, Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux(Citizens Advice Scotland), Chair of Citizens Advice Scotland Policy Forum 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;
- 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.