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STUC 2014 Dundee

Scotland should use powers to create fairer council funding now

Stephen Smellie
Stephen Smellie

The Council Tax freeze is benefitting the richest by £1,500 while disabled people can be £3,000 worse off. "That needs fixed and it can be done in Scotland now - we have all the powers we need", UNISON's Stephen Smellie told the STUC congress.

The UNISON Scotland motion called for politicians of all parties to 'stop hiding from difficult decisions and sort out fair tax for local services'.

"Local government finance is knackered", said Stephen. "Why should it not be when it has been nothing but a political football for years."

All parties had failed to deal with local government with respect for local governance or local services or local communities.

"When middle class ratepayers squealed, the Tories cancelled the re-evaluation of property values in the 80s. When the same people whined about rate rises to fund schools and roads, the Tories abolished the rates and gave us the poll tax.

"When business complained.. government took away councils' powers to levy the rates.

When we revolted against the poll tax and helped bring down Thatcher, the Tories rished in the council tax", said Stephen.

And when Scottish Labour's finance secretary proposed reform of the tax, "he was told not to by the UK party in case it embarrased Labour south of the border."

"First the Tories, then the SNP and then Labour all promised to freeze the Council Tax." That temporary freeze had become a 'permafrost'.

"Local government has no local powers and can't govern as their ability to raise funds in response to local needs has been taken away."

"We need a proper debate on the future of local government finance", said Stephen, "through a progressive tax system."

A progressive system would tax all income and wealth with taxes on income and profits levied nationally along with a fair property tax at local level.


Date 15 April 2014

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