An SNP MSP has urged the Aberdeen City Council administration to take a more than £4 million Scottish Government offer and freeze its council tax – but the authority’s Tory co-leader raised fears such a move could create further financial woes in years to come.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes last month announced a £90m fund to compensate local authorities who opt to keep their council tax he same for 2021/22.
Ministers have offered Aberdeen City council £4.2 million should the authority decide to freeze its council tax as part of its budget, a policy the SNP says will help residents facing money troubles because of the pandemic.
Last week, the Tory-led Aberdeenshire Council agreed to accept its £4.7m share of the £90m in compensatory cash to not raise its council taxes.
SNP MSP Kevin Stewart has now urged the Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent-run city council to follow suit.
The Aberdeen Central politician said: “People’s finances are under huge pressure just now and no council should be adding to their burden with a council tax hike.
“The Scottish Government has stepped up and provided the funding to protect household budgets and that is something that should be welcomed.”
He added: “Aberdeen has been offered in excess of £4m to freeze the council tax so there is no excuse for the council leadership not to take advantage of that.
“I hope that the council administration will now commit to delivering a Scottish Government-funded council tax freeze and will rule out a council tax bombshell for Aberdeen households.”
Conservative city council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “The administration will consider its position on council tax at the budget meeting in March.
“It is self-evident from the decision at the Strategic Commissioning Committee that councillor Alex Nicol and the SNP do not share Kevin Stewart’s position on council tax given they agreed a motion for the council co-leader to write to Cosla leaders encouraging the Scottish Government to provide local government with the £90m allocated with no strings attached, thereby enabling councils to determine their own position on council tax.
Mr Lumsden said: “This Scottish Government are the most centralistic Scottish Government in history and all that a council tax freeze does is make it more difficult in later years.
“Kevin Stewart MSP in trying to gain a political advantage in an election year will cost those falling for this trick in the long run as vital public services diminish.
“What Kevin Stewart MSP and the Scottish Government should be doing is fulfilling their manifesto commitment from 2007 to reform council tax.”