Deputy First Minister Shona Robison and Labour leader Anas Sarwar
By Bill Heaney
The consultation on the council tax multiplier is looking at how we can make council tax fairer, according to Deputy First Minister Shona Robison.
She added that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) is also looking at how we could replace the council tax in the future.
Ms Robison told MSPs: “Here is one question that the consultation is asking: why is it that someone living in a band H property pays so much less, as a proportion of the value of their property, than someone in a band A property?
“As someone living in a higher-band property, I do not think that that is fair, so why does Anas Sarwar think that it is fair?
“We will get on with that consultation, but it is not credible for Anas Sarwar to come here and say no to progressive taxation when it comes to income tax and to any changes in local taxation, but to demand that money be spent on public services. That is not a credible position for Anas Sarwar to take.”
Anas Sarwar replied: “The SNP has been in government for 16 years and that is the best answer that Shona Robison can give. The Deputy First Minister just does not get it, so let me give her the example of one family.
“The mum is a nurse, the dad is a teacher and they have two young kids. Their energy bills have sky-rocketed and they are still paying 50 per cent, or £2,000, more than they used to.
“Their food bills are up almost 20 per cent; they have been hit with a mortgage increase of more than £2,000 a year and now the SNP wants to make that worse by asking both mum and dad to pay more income tax, to pay hundreds of pounds more in council tax and to pay £15 a day to get to work in Glasgow.
“That family is being let down by both Tory and SNP incompetence. Both Governments are making life harder for working people, so why can the Deputy First Minister not see that the people of Scotland are being asked to pay the price for SNP failure?”
Shona Robison replied: “We know that Anas Sarwar is now getting his orders from Keir Starmer, and they are to not promise anything in terms of progressive taxation and to turn his back on raising additional funds. Anas Sarwar should remember that, if we had followed what he seems to be suggesting—the Tory tax policies—we would have £1 billion less for public services in our coffers.
“Let me repeat: there is a consultation on council tax. No decisions have been made in terms of council tax increases. He should not be saying that that is the case, because that is to mislead.
“Let me say to the nurse and the teacher that Anas Sarwar commented on that we have, of course, made sure that nurses are better paid in Scotland than those elsewhere in these islands by making sure that we pay through agenda for change, and teachers, of course, are better paid in Scotland than those anywhere else in these islands, because we settled with the teachers in relation to their pay claim.
“We will get on with paying public workers what they deserve to be paid and supporting household incomes. Anas Sarwar will side with the Tories against progressive taxation. What a place for Labour to end up.”