Council tax in the Borders rises by 3%

Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells.

Scottish Borders Council has voted to increase the region’s council tax by 3% to boost the authority’s income by £1.8m in 2019-20.

It will be the third time in a row that Borderers have seen their council tax rise following the end of a nine-year freeze ordered by the Scottish Government.

Occupants of band-D properties in the Borders will be asked to pay out an extra £34.50 a year, up from £1,150 to £1,184.50, although the majority of properties in the region fall into bands A to C, accounting for 36,203 out of the total of 58,253 domestic properties here.

At a full meeting of the council on December 20, Tweeddale East councillor Robin Tatler spoke in favour of raising the tax, saying: “There is a logic behind this, and we’re giving Scottish Borders taxpayers a lot of notice.

“A 3% increase represents roughly an inflation-rate increase and allows us to set budgets with a degree of certainty.”

Leaderdale and Melrose councillor Tom Miers also supported the motion saying: “The purpose of council tax is so that local government can make informed choices. It’s about weighing the interests of protecting services against putting an additional burden on taxpayers.

“I don’t support the increase that we’re looking to put forward, but we have no choice. It’s entirely unsatisfactory, but it must be done.”

Councillors voted unanimously to support the tax rise, but Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell did speak in favour of delaying the rise until more is known about the Scottish Government’s local government finance settlement.

A nine-year council tax freeze implemented by the SNP Scottish Government has meant Scottish councils having to play catch-up in the money they can raise locally from residents - council tax in the Borders accounts for around 20% of the council’s revenue.

At the same meeting councillors were also looking to increase fees and charges for council services and use of council buildings.

Among the proposed charges to rise by 3% is the use of council owned halls and rented spaces. Councillors were told that SBC in conjunction with Live Borders is looking to standardise fees and charges for community access to schools and other facilities to ensure they are affordable to groups, clubs and individuals. However, the work will not be completed by February when the council sets its budget and results will be reported to councillors when available.