Making local funding fairer; no pensioner who lives on £10,000 income to pay any council tax
Fairer Local Funding Action Plan
Most people agree with us that council tax is unfair. The new powers in the Scotland Bill will make it easier to reform it. Our preferred alternative is local income tax. We will learn from the introduction of the Scottish income tax power in 2015 to allow us to be in a position to take forward reform from 2016.
For the forthcoming Parliament we will make a single, simple change. We will make sure that no pensioner on less than £10,000 has to pay any council tax. At the moment, even people on modest pensions end up paying hundreds of pounds in unfair council tax. Under our plans they will pay nothing. We will do this using the savings from our proposals to restrict bonuses in the public sector.
This will benefit around 20,000 pensioners in Scotland who need most help, many of them women who have faced huge disadvantages in their pensions due to the way the national insurance system has worked over the last fifty years.
We will provide sufficient central resources to support a council tax freeze for the next two years. We will enter discussions with local authority partners to consider options for the remainder of the parliamentary term.
We have a long commitment to federalism across the UK. The Scotland Bill is part of this. It establishes shared approach and accountability on taxation. We will take the principle further by improving the relationship and accountability between central and local government.
The Action Plan will:
• Reject centralisation and centrally-driven reorganisations.
• Give local authorities a power of general competence.
• Publish a white paper on localism to outline the fuller steps that can be taken to disperse power away from the centre and towards local communities once the Scotland Bill powers are in force.
• Promote greater local democratic oversight of public spending in an area to help bring efficiencies in the delivery of public services by eliminating duplication and promoting joint working.
• Support and assist those local authorities who want to propose a regional option to public services, but we will not impose a centrally-driven reorganisation of local government.
• Recognise that the complex needs that are expected to be met by all authorities across Scotland include demands that cannot be accurately plugged into a formula, however complex. We will review the funding formula for local government to make it simpler, more transparent and fairer to all authorities.
• Introduce progressively a new rule to ensure that no authority receives less than 90 per cent of the average revenue support grant per head. The funding change will be introduced as cash increases for local government to ensure that no other authority will lose any cash as a result of the change.
• Help local authorities make greater use of alternative funding innovations such as Tax Incremental Finance and the Local Asset Backed Vehicle model in order to leverage investment for development and regeneration.
• Consult on plans to allow local authorities to charge utility services an hourly rate for highway lane closures that overrun to encourage greater efficiency.
We will carry out a comprehensive review of local business taxation to make it fairer and improve business sustainability.
• Make transitional relief statutory for businesses at the 2015 revaluation, ending the scandal of 200 per cent increases under the current government.
• Give greater parliamentary scrutiny to business rate assessors, their methodology in calculating rateable values and their handling of appeals.
• Review the impact of taxation on empty properties.
• Allow a proportion of additional revenues generated from economic growth to be retained by local authorities for reinvestment in their areas.
• Explore the potential to introduce a business rates holiday for tourism businesses over the winter months.
• Develop the small business bonus scheme with a view to extending it to cover small businesses with a high rateable value, such as hotels.
Please see pages 76-77 of the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party manifesto for this policy.
The party had no previous policy stated on its website for this topic for comparison.
Retrieved on 12/04/11 (1:19am) from: 2011 Party Manifesto