Budget: Fife set to freeze Council Tax to help with pandemic pressures

Council tax rates in Fife are set to be frozen on Thursday as the Kingdom takes advantage of ministers' promises to pay the difference.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

In January, finance secretary Kate Forbes announced a £90 million fund that will give councils the equivalent of the income from a 3% rise in council tax if they choose to freeze rates for 2021/22.

It means Fife Council can enjoy the benefits of a 3% rise without passing the costs on to locals who may have experienced financial hardship during the pandemic.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Council tax and rent rises are normally agreed during a wider budget meeting.

Fifers face a Council Tax freeze this yearFifers face a Council Tax freeze this year
Fifers face a Council Tax freeze this year

However, Fife has pushed the bulk of its financial discussions back to March 11 amid uncertainty of what the UK and Scottish budgets - on March 3 and 9 respectively - could mean for the region.

Alongside council tax, councillors are also set to vote on a proposed 1.5% rise for Fife Council tenants, covering both rent and service charges.

It means average weekly rents for council tenants will increase from £75.45 to £76.58.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It is the lowest rate rise in several years - but tenants will pay the price in future years. Council papers suggest a 3.5% rise is on the cards for 2022/23 and 2023/24 that will eventually push weekly rents north of £80.

The proposals for next year were supported by almost two-thirds of consulted tenants, with 37% opposing the rise.

But Fife Council officers say the weekly rent continues to compare favourably with that of the Kingdom's other registered social landlords.

Officers have opted to abandon their usual rent-setting formula because of the coronavirus crisis.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In a normal year, the rise is set against inflation as measured by the retail price index (RPI) plus a nominal 1%. This should mean rent increases by 2.1% next year, based on September's RPI of 1.1%.

But the council says it can lower the rise to 1.5% to avoid making too big a dent in tenants' pockets without causing havoc with their annual housing plans. Next year's housing revenue account (HRA) budget is already several million pounds lower than anticipated as a result of Covid-19.

The rates will be agreed at a full meeting of the council on Thursday at 10am.