The impact in Dumfries and Galloway of the Scottish Government’s recent decision to increase Council Tax by adjusting the level of Council Tax for “high band” properties has been revealed.
The Scottish Government recently introduced legislation to change the Council Tax which will mean properties in Bands E to H will pay higher Council Tax from 1 April.
There is no local discretion to change these multipliers so councillors have no say on the proposals. The change will raise £2.4m in Dumfries and Galloway which can be offset against the Council’s £16m funding gap as a result of recent Government cuts in funding.
Increases of 1.6% in domestic Water and Wastewater charges for 2017/18 have already been set by the Scottish Government, which again local councils have no say over and the income goes to Scottish Water not the council, even although they are shown on Council Tax bills.
In addition the Scottish Government has provided councils with local discretion to apply up to a maximum 3% increase on the Council Tax base, following a freeze in Council Tax which has been in place since April 2008.
A decision on the percentage increase will be made when Dumfries and Galloway Council approves the 2017/18 budget on 28 February 2017. The Dumfries and Galloway region has had the lowest Council Tax rate in mainland Scotland since 2008, with Council Tax 10% lower than the Scottish average.
Commenting on the change in law, the leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said: “The change in law made by the Scottish Government will mean a rise in Council Tax for people living in Band E to H houses.
“Although it is a Council Tax rise the Council actually has no say on it as it is being brought in by the Government. What I think will annoy some people is the fact that despite this rise, there will still have to be cuts made to balance the books because of a massive reduction in Government funding.
“This change will raise £2.4m for the council but the funding gap we need to fill due to cuts is £16million. It is ironic that the Scottish Government won’t use their own new tax raising powers in the Scottish Parliament to increase income tax but they impose a tax rise through Councils, presumably because they want the Council rather the Government to be blamed.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Nicholson has also warned that a business rates review by the Scottish Government could see business rates rise for some local companies in the area, in particular those involved in tourism.
A rates revaluation instigated by the Scottish Government is currently being undertaken which will re-asses how much organisations will pay in non-domestic rates to take effect from 1 April 2017.
The revaluation is carried out by independent assessors. The Scottish Assessors Association has published provisional values, with the finalised figures to be sent out in March before they take effect in the new financial year. The last revaluation in Scotland was carried out in 2010, so as property rents have increased since then in many areas, it is likely it will lead to an increase in rates.
Councillor Nicholson added: “The Government normally carry out a revaluation on a regular basis but the current Government delayed the present review and it’s now seven years since the last one was conducted. That means if the rent value on a property has increased since 2010 then the rates are likely to increase.
“In some cases, such as town centre properties, it may be their value has actually fallen so you could see a cut in rates which would be good news for those businesses. However, we have seen in other parts of Scotland some businesses, in particular hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts, face steep increases and that is a worry.
“Again the rules are set by the Government and the revaluation is carried out by independent assessors so the council don’t have any say on the rateable values set but we will be watching the outcome carefully and if we can assist either through lobbying the Government or looking at our local rates relief scheme we will definitely do that.”
The table below outlines the revised charges in Dumfries and Galloway based on the aforementioned ‘multiplier’ and Scottish Water increases. As the decision has not yet been made it does not include any percentage increase agreed by Dumfries and Galloway Council when they set their budget on 28 February.
Based on the current Band D Charge in Dumfries & Galloway of £1,049 the reformed charges for Council Tax in Dumfries and Galloway are as follows:
|Current 2016/17 Council Tax charge||699.33||815.89||932.44||1,049.00||1,282.11||1,515.22||1,748.33||2,098.00|
|Following Scottish Government multiplier change in 2017/18||699.33||815.89||932.44||1,049.00||1,378.27||1,704.63||2,054.29||2,570.05|
|2017 Confirmed Domestic Water Charges from Scottish Water (included in your bill)|
|Total Scottish Water Increase for 2017/18||4.44||5.18||5.92||6.66||8.18||9.62||11.10||13.32|