Scotland politics

Three Scottish councils to maintain tax freeze

Government proposals Image copyright PA
Image caption Councils are discussing their spending plans and setting their council tax levels for 2017/18

Three Labour-run councils in Scotland have voluntarily frozen the basic rate of council tax.

South Lanarkshire confirmed on Thursday that it would not be increasing most bills, despite the ability to raise them by up to 3%.

Inverclyde and Renfrewshire councils followed suit after votes of their own.

However, a quarter of households will see their bills rise regardless after MSPs backed changes to the upper four bands of council tax.

The authorities argue they are helping family budgets, but the move could leave them open to criticism from anti-austerity campaigners.

BBC Scotland's local government correspondent Jamie McIvor said any council which froze the council tax could find it hard to attack the Scottish government over the level of council funding.

However, local authorities may believe the move will prove popular locally or demonstrate efficiency, ahead of elections in May.

Angus Council, which is run by the SNP, voted to raise basic council tax by 3%, which will result in Band D bills increasing to £1,104.

Councils including Glasgow City, Fife and Highland have also announced they will raise the basic rate by 3%.

Fife Council said its increase would raise £4.4m towards £25m of savings which had been identified, while outlining additional investment of £5.4m in local facilities and services.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Council tax bills for larger properties are rising from April regardless of what local councils decide

There is speculation that Aberdeen City Council will opt for a freeze in the basic rate of council tax when it sets its budget next week.

The Scottish government is allowing councils to raise the basic rate of council tax by up to 3% without penalty for the first time since 2007.

However, about a quarter of households will pay more regardless of their local council's decisions.

Bills for properties in Bands E to H will rise automatically from April through national changes to the way council tax is calculated which have been made by the Scottish government.

BBC analysis shows this will affect 25% of properties in South Lanarkshire, 18% in Inverclyde and 24% in Renfrewshire, despite the freeze in the basic rate.

By Thursday, 11 councils had opted to put up the basic rate of council tax by 3%, costing a typical billpayer £3 to 4 a month.

Aberdeenshire Council, which has an SNP-led coalition in charge, opted for a smaller rise of 2.5%.

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