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‘The right thing to do’: Council tax frozen for people across Fife

Fife Council HQ, Fife House in Glenrothes.
Labour's David Ross is now Fife Council leader.

Council tax bills for residents across the kingdom have been frozen for the coming year in a move to ease financial pressures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

However Fife Council has agreed to raise rents by 1.5% for 2021/22, a smaller increase that the projected 2.2% for tenants, which also takes into account the impact of Covid-19 on households.

Councillors agreed the move at a meeting of the local authority to discuss its budget.

In the Scottish Government’s draft budget in January Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said £90 million would be earmarked for councils.

She said this would give them the equivalent of a 3% rise in support funding if they agreed to freeze council tax rates for the coming year.

By agreeing to do so, Fife Council will receive around £5.8 million of extra funding.

Joint Fife Council leaders David Alexander & David Ross.
Joint Fife Council leaders David Alexander & David Ross.

Co-leader of the administration, councillor David Ross said the last 12 months had been “unprecedented and difficult” for everyone and that freezing the council tax was “the right thing to do”.

He added: “Failure to freeze the council tax would result in Fife not getting that extra funding from the Scottish Government and that would be a significant loss to the level of funding for the council.”

Co-leader, SNP Councillor David Alexander, said: “If ever there was a year to freeze the council tax then this was the year to do it given the impact of Covid-19.”

Councillor Tim Brett, leader of the Lib Dem group in Fife, agreed with the council tax freeze – however he called on the local authority to also halt the rent increase.

His amendment was voted down by councillors.

Councillor Judy Hamilton branded his move nothing more than an attempt at “headline grabbing”, adding that the rise had the backing of 62% of tenants groups who were consulted prior to setting the increase.

She said: “This is a modest increase that will mean services won’t be cut and comes as part of a £250m overall financial commitment to housing, maintaining and improving housing stock and putting us on track to meet our target of 1,500 new council homes being built this year.”

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