Council tax goes up but services reduce

John Lamont MSP.
John Lamont MSP.

The Scottish Government’s 2017-18 budget was passed by the Scottish Parliament last week, but not everyone’s happy with its contents.

While the Scottish Government talks of record spending on the NHS and additional millions spent on education, critics argue that the cut in council spending means that Borderers will be paying more tax for fewer services.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay speaking in the Scottish Parliament.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay speaking in the Scottish Parliament.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay said: “This budget secures Scotland’s social contract with investment in public services on a massive scale, support for our economy and help for those on low incomes.

“With £900m of additional investment, we are putting in place the foundations to transform and reform our public services and deliver on our commitments over the next five years.

“We are providing the funding for education to close the attainment gap, double childcare and protect higher and further education.

“We are investing record amounts in our front-line NHS, in social care and protecting free prescriptions and free personal care for the elderly.

“This is a budget that delivers for every part of Scotland and it is one that ensures taxpayers all across the country get more for their money, than anywhere else in the UK.

That’s not how Borders MSP John Lamont sees it, however.

“This budget effectively puts up a sign at the Border saying ‘Scotland is closed for business’, and it will do little to promote the Borders as an attractive place to live or to do business,” said Mr Lamont.

“Instead of seeking to grow the economy and increase tax revenues, the SNP has chosen to hike taxes.

“In the Scottish Borders, this is a huge mistake because we are so close to what will now be a lower-taxed part of the country.

“This budget is a bad deal for Borderers. Despite having more money to spend, the SNP has chosen to slash council budgets.

“Scottish Borders Council will have nearly £6m less to spend on things like local schools, roads investment and transport, yet at the same time, Borderers are facing a £2.8m hike in their council tax bill, as well as an increase in personal taxes for those on higher incomes, so residents are paying more for less in return.”