Thousands of middle-class families in Falkirk district will have to find hundreds of pounds more next year to pay their council tax.
Following the shake-up announced by Nicola Sturgeon those living in larger properties rated in bands E to H face hikes of between £93 and £481 a year from April 2017 - but the end of the council tax freeze after nine years will allow across-the-board inflation busting rises of three per cent that could add another £42 to £78 to the bills.
Just over 12 months from now every householder in Falkirk liable to pay the tax will be at least £21 a year worse off. Those on the top band will pay over £560 more.
Falkirk has the second lowest council tax in mainland Scotland, however the council’s finance chiefs say the changes have the potential to raise annual rates by:
* £21.40 in Band A from £713.33 to £734.73;
* £24.97 in Band B from £832.22 to £857.19;
* £28.53 in Band C from £951.11 to £979.64;
* £32.10 in Band D from £1070 to £1102.10;
* £135.97 in Band E from £1307.78 to £1443.75;
* £250.86 in Band F from £1545.56 to £1796.42;
* £376.79 in Band G from £1783.33 to £2160.12;
* £560.15 in Band H from £2140.00 to £2700.15.
In its 2007 manifesto the SNP pledged to scrap the council tax and replace it by 2011, but the changes have been labelled a “missed opportunity” by the opposition.
Falkirk Council leader Craig Martin said: “Nearly 10 years ago they said they would introduce a fairer system based on ability to pay. In 2017 the First Minister now intends to replace council tax - with council tax! They have broken their promise and announced nothing radical.
“For a government that has attacked the system for nine years and gone to the trouble of setting up a commission to look at an alternative, this is all they could come up with?
“Putting self-interest ahead of real change could have serious consequences for our communities, particularly coming on the back of such a terrible budget settlement for local government. They have done nothing of substance, made the system more complicated and less transparent for individuals and more complex for councils to administer.
“It’s a missed opportunity to deliver meaningful change.”
Councillor Craig R Martin, prospective Falkirk East Labour candidate, said: “The changes and unfreezing of the council tax proposed by the SNP is just a small step in the right direction, but the fundamental regressive nature of the council tax is still there. It is still a massively unfair tax that has had its time.
“I have campaigned for years for an increase in council tax to fund vital local services, but the changes the SNP have put forward will only result in an extra few million for Falkirk Council, no-where near the £25 million cut from our budget this year.”
Falkirk East SNP MSP Angus MacDonald claimed: “The reform meets the key tests of making the system fairer, more progressive and locally empowering. They will see three quarters of households in the Falkirk Council area paying the same or even less, while those at the top will pay a bit more in order to fund major new investment in our local schools. Overall, these plans will protect the vast majority and proposals I will be proud to campaign on.”