Think-tank calls for fiscal devolution

By William Eichler | 10 April 2017

Council tax and business rates in Scotland should be devolved in full to local authorities, a think-tank has argued.

Reform Scotland said local democracy was undermined by the current local taxation system because it is out of the control of elected councillors.

The think-tank believes this weakens the link between councillors and the people who elect them, causing a loss of faith and a lack of participation in local politics and local elections.

‘Local democracy in Scotland is severely constrained because councils have insufficient power to do what they would like to do and are therefore not genuinely accountable to local voters,’ said Reform Scotland’s director Geoff Mawdsley.

‘In large part, that is because local authorities have almost no control over local taxation.

‘If we truly believe that decisions should be made closer to those whom they affect, then we need to rejuvenate local democracy,’ Mr Mawdsley continued.

‘That’s why we want to see council tax and business rates devolved to local authorities in full - bands, rates, increases, cuts, applications, the lot.

‘Together with the money councils raise from rent, sales and charges, they would raise about half of their own spending, with the remainder coming from the continuation of the General Revenue Grant.’

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Finance Local democracy Politics Business rates Council Tax Local elections Councillors Scotland Fiscal Freedom