Council co-leader responds to council tax loss claims

Councillor Richard Thomson, co-leader of Aberdeenshire Council.

Councillor Richard Thomson, co-leader of Aberdeenshire Council.

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The co-leader of Aberdeenshire Council has hit back at claims that the area will face a loss of £8.6million in council tax revenue to the Central Belt.

The Scottish Conservatives claimed that Aberdeenshire Council was expected to keep just £400,000 from an estimated £9million collected next year from increased council tax bills, with the remaining £8.6million expected to be redistributed to the Central Belt.

Councillor Jim Gifford

Councillor Jim Gifford

The Scottish Government plans to retain the extra cash from revenue support grants for each local authority and put it towards a £100million Attainment Fund to improve education in the poorest parts of the country.

Council tax rises for Band E-H properties only affect 25% of home owners nationally, but in Aberdeenshire, 41% of households face an increase.

The Scottish Conservative group on Aberdeenshire Council have said that taxes collected locally must be spent locally on key services like schools, roads and care for older people.

Group leader Jim Gifford said: “We are talking about one of the fundamental principles of local democracy – taxes collected locally must be spent locally.

“We want to see SNP councillors in Aberdeenshire stand up for the local area they were elected to represent and oppose this – not simply toe the party line from Edinburgh.

“People across the North East do not mind paying their fair share, but they will not want their taxes shipped off to the Central Belt when there are pressing problems here on our own doorstep.

“Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are among the lowest funded councils in Scotland, we do not want to see any more money being siphoned off to the Central Belt.”

However council co-leader and Ellon & District SNP councillor, Richard Thomson, said the claims were just “Tory twaddle”.

Cllr Thomson added: “These are figures that the Tories continue to pluck from thin air.

“However, the most revealing aspect of this Tory twaddle is that they still have no proposals of their own, either to make council tax fairer or on how to close the attainment gap for pupils from poorer backgrounds.

“Significant numbers of pupils right across Aberdeenshire will benefit from this investment in schools.

“We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and other councils to make sure the full impact of individual and rural poverty is accounted for and that we get our fair share of resources.”

“I’m sure people in Aberdeenshire would love to hear why the Tories oppose giving every child in Scotland a chance to succeed in life.

“Perhaps that’s why the party, along with their Lib Dem helpers, proposed earlier in the year to cut a further £430,000 from Aberdeenshire council’s Education and Children’s Services budget.”

SNP candidate fo the Inverurie by-election Neil Ballie said: “Local authorities will keep every penny of the council tax that is raised in their areas; there will be no change for three out of four Scottish households in terms of how much council tax they pay and £100 million will be raised to drive up standards in Scottish schools.

“It’s hard to believe that little over two years ago it was the Tories who were preaching the gospel of ‘pooling and sharing’ across the UK. Now it seems they can’t even bring themselves to pool and share across Aberdeenshire.”