Falkirk Unison welcome consultation on council tax

Falkirk Council faces another year of council tax freeze
Falkirk Council faces another year of council tax freeze
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Most Scots would be happy to pay more council tax if they thought the money was being spent on local services, 
according to a poll.

Two-thirds of those questioned back a rise, although eight out of ten want more say in how services are run.

Currently, councils agreeing to freeze the tax are given an amount of funding, but would get less if they decide to put it up.

However, the whole question of how local government is paid for is the subject of a discussion document produced by Unison, the local government union.

Gray Allan, Falkirk Unison branch secretary, said underfunding was a major problem with the freeze. He said: “A local authority is told by the Scottish Government how much it has but then sees it eroded by inflation and increased demand on services.

“The freeze also reduces any discretion councils have regarding expenditure and begs the question ‘how democratic is local democracy?’.

“The role of local government is diminishing with central government, whether it is Holyrood or Westminster, telling it what to do and if they don’t, they don’t get the money.”

He added Unison supported the principle of council tax as a form of local taxation, but only with a revaluation of property and a review of property banding levels.

Falkirk Council leader, Councillor Craig Martin, said the freeze had “broken” local authority finance, adding: “It actually costs people more money as charges to deliver services are increased to provide vital funds.”

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, SNP group leader, said: “If asked the question would you agree to pay more council tax for improved services, most reasonable people will say yes. However, ask if they think they are getting value for money for what they pay just now and you will get a different answer.”