Council Tax: Fifers face rise of up to 5% as Fife Council faces major budget gap

Fifers could face a rise of 5% in their Council Tax bills if budget proposals from Fife Council’s Labour administration are rubber-stamped.
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The SNP has proposed a 3% increase. Councillors meet next week to make their decision.

The rises come against a backdrop of a budget gap of £11.5m with warnings of bigger issues in future years.

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Councillors were warned by Eileen Rowlands, executive director of finance, that the local authority “continues to operate in a climate of unprecedented uncertainty” and she said the “enduring impacts remain unknown.”

Picture Michael GillenPicture Michael Gillen
Picture Michael Gillen

By 2025-26, the budget gap is estimated to be more than £55,500 million.

Labour’s minority administration has proposed a 5% council tax hike - that would mean a rise for Band D properties to £1,385, and it would generate an additional £9.080 million in revenue.

In a statement, the administration said: “Fife Council is once again faced with making cuts to vital local services and raising council tax over the next three years as a result of under-funding by the Scottish Government.

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“This follows more than a decade of cuts to council budgets by the Scottish Government along with restrictions on council tax and ring fencing of spending. Year after year, the Council has been forced to make cuts to services in order to produce a balanced budget.”

The administration said the Scottish Government controls over 80% of council funding through its core grant and with a ‘flat cash’ settlement in place up to 2025/26 it said that meant “no additional funding for inflation, currently running at over 10%, pay increases or demographic pressures, let alone any funding to meet new or emerging local needs. “

It also highlighted fewer staff taking on greater workloads - over 2000 council posts have gone since 2010, and while it hoped to avoid job cuts , the local authority “could be forced to lose up to 500 more posts over the following two years. “

The SNP opposition - the single biggest party at Fife House - has tabled a proposal for a 3% rise which would mean Band D properties going up to £1,358.

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It warned that “inflationary pressures are feeding through into all areas of public spending.”

“People across Fife are suffering from financial hardship and workers are rightly demanding pay increases to combat the Tory cost-of-living crisis. Whatever inflation measure people choose to use, the funding coming to the Scottish Government and Councils is insufficient to cover the impact,” Fife Council SNP Group said.

It said its budget showed that the council can, for a fourth year in a row can avoid cuts and job losses, and invest £3.9 million in vital services under the most stress. It added: “In setting a 3% Council Tax, rate we are balancing the need to minimise the impact on Council Taxpayers and to protect the services the council provides.”

The SNP also aimed its criticism directly at Westminster, highlighting a potential £25m gap between income and expenditure - excluding any Council Tax rise.

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“The Westminster Government uplift to Holyrood is estimated to be as low as 1%. This is unacceptable and the Westminster Government has a moral responsibility to adequately recompense workers and also the devolved administrations which are struggling with underfunding from Westminster caused by catastrophic Tory mismanagement of the economy and public finances.”