Calls for new property tax system to boost council budgets

Monday April 15th, 2019

A new system of property tax and environmental charges should be introduced to boost Scottish council funding, according to a report.UNISON

Trade union Unison and the Jimmy Reid Foundation launched a joint paper on Monday calling for a “fundamental review” of local government funding.

It sets out recommendations of what can be pursued as a means to increase council service spending, including the recruitment of staff to ensure revenues are collected and the introduction of new levies.

Mike Kirby, Scottish secretary of Unison, said: “Over the years, the balance of funding for public services through local government has shifted from approximately 50% coming from national government to 50% being raised directly by local authorities, to 85% of funding coming from central government and 15% being raised directly by local authorities.

“Together with an overall reduction in funding, during a period of austerity, this has resulted in severe financial pressures and impacted upon the quality and delivery of vital public services.

“Politicians in all spheres must create the time and space for a fundamental review of funding local government.

“This report is a contribution to that essential debate.”

Other recommendations in the report include looking for more effective support for private and social enterprises, while unions should consider how municipalisation of public services could be appropriately pursued as well as how local authority debts can be taken over by the Treasury.

It also says Unison should consider establishing improved research and policy facilities through collaborations with academics and others in the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC) research network to assist in the above.

An expansion of local public services is possible with a “fairer system” of property taxes and environmental charges, according to the report.

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