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Date: Wed 1 May 2013

Council tax freeze is costing public services dear - UNISON

Hard-pressed Scots are facing massive increases in charges for vital local services to pay for the Scottish government’s Council Tax freeze, public sector union UNISON has revealed.

The union has called for a new debate over the Council Tax freeze - which mainly benefits those living in better off neighbourhoods.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said:
“It is clear the Council Tax freeze is costing public services - and those who rely on them most – very dearly indeed.

“We asked all the Scottish councils, using a Freedom of Information request, how their charges have changed since the Council Tax was ‘frozen’ in 2007. The responses reveal that people on modest incomes are having to pay far more for costs like their rent, school meals for their kids, and charges for care in daycentres for their vulnerable relatives – and still services are being cut back.

“Meanwhile those in the leafier suburbs benefit most from the unfair Council Tax freeze. It is not socially just or fair.”

Dave Watson said:
“It is time for the debate on the Council Tax freeze to change. Discussions around the Council Tax usually use the Band D charge for comparison but the average bill rate gives a better idea of what people are actually paying. The average council tax bill in Scotland is £985 while the average band D charge is £1149.

“The freeze disproportionally benefits the wealthy; while charges are being increased and services cut. Band H households are “saving” on average £441 per year while those in the cheapest homes (Band A) “save” £147 a year.

“UNISON’s FOI request shows increased charging far outweighs the claimed savings. Rents in some areas are going up by over £900 per year. It’s much fairer for everyone to pay a small amount extra in tax than have big increases in charges that bear no relation to ability to pay for services.”

ends

For information please contact:
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, 07958 122 409
Stephen Low, Policy Officer, 07956 852 822
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, 07876 566 978

Notes for editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector.

2. UNISON asked all the Scottish councils, using a Freedom of Information request, how their charges have changed since the Council Tax was ‘frozen’ in 2007. Responses are detailed in our new briefing Council Tax Freeze which is published on our website at
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/e-briefing_CouncilTaxFreeze_May2013.pdf

Some examples include:

Rent: In Edinburgh, a three bedroom council home has gone up from £61.57 per week to £85.55 - which adds up to £1237 a year extra. That’s more than the average council tax bill in Edinburgh which is £1098; and even more than the normally-quoted band D charge of £1169.

School meals: The charge for school meals in Argyll and Bute has gone up from £1.60 to £2.10 since the Council Tax was ‘frozen’ in 2007. That’s £5 extra a week for a family with two children – or a rise of £200 a year.

Day centres: Councils are introducing charges for attendance at day centres for elderly and disabled residents: East Dunbartonshire is now charging £10 a week for attendance at day centres for elderly and disabled residents. That is £500 a year. Meanwhile, Falkirk has introduced a charge of £23.50 per visit for people with learning difficulties.

Check out the Briefing for more detail.

 

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