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Council / Council tax set at last year’s rates

Council house rents to go up by five per cent

COUNCIL tax rates in Shetland will remain unchanged in the coming financial year after councillors accepted the freeze proposed by the Scottish Government.

In return, Shetland Islands Council will receive a £519,000 incentive – equivalent to a five per cent increase in council tax.

Council tax for a Band D property will continue to be £1,260.61, the lowest in Scotland.

The council also voted in favour of a five per cent increase in council house rents, following consultation with tenants.

Further, councillors decided by a narrow vote to notify to Scottish Government that a higher council tax was needed for 2025/26, likely to be in the region of a 7.5 per cent increase.

Deputy leader Gary Robinson said the Holyrood government was undermining local democracy by meddling in the council’s own powers to set this particular tax.

He also said the government was dragging its feet on the much-needed reform of the council tax in Scotland. “I think it is astonishing that we find ourselves 17 years on from the Scottish Government telling us that they were going to overhaul and review local taxation and that still hasn’t happened,” Robinson said.

“Where we have seen council tax freezes in the past, the unfortunate thing about that is that the money was not ringfenced (…) and just became rolled up in the annual grant and we have seen annual grants being reduced.

“I think we really do need to send a strong message that this is our tax, and that we should be allowed to set it every year.”

Council leader Emma Macdonald added that it was disappointing to be left “with a choice that really isn’t a choice”.

Councillor Stephen Leask meanwhile said he could not understand why councillors were making assumptions on the following year’s council tax as no-one knew what the future would bring.

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His amendment was supported by nine councillors whereas 11 elected members voted with Robinson’s motion.

There is a projected council funding deficit of £25.1 million for next financial year. To balance the books the council will have to draw that amount “unsustainably” from reserves.

The SIC will agree its budget at the end of March.

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