Fife Budget: council set for crunch meeting on Council Tax and rent rises

Fife’s political parties have laid out their budget proposals - now it’s decision day.
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Councillors meet this morning (February 23) to decide which package to endorse, and the bottom line is Council Tax bill and rents are going to go up.

Fife’s minority Labour administration is proposing a 5% Council Tax hike to tackle a projected £11.5m budget shortfall. The SNP is pitching a 3% increase, while the Tories have not presented a budget, opting instead to see what the main two parties came up with – but they won’t back the SNP.

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Labour’s proposal would raise the rate for Band D properties to £1,385 per year - a £66 a year increase. The SNP’s proposal would take it up by £40.

Councillors will set the budget todayCouncillors will set the budget today
Councillors will set the budget today

Labour is also pitching a “necessary and appropriate” 5% rent hike to tackle a funding gap of more than £8 million. The SNP want a 3% increase, while the local authority’s housing boss said a 6.5 per cent rise was needed to bridge the shortfall. Cosla guidelines have ruled out any local increases over 5%.

The meeting at Fife House comes at a time the council is facing what Councillor David Ross, leader of the administration, described as a “tipping point.”

“It’s been a death by a thousand cuts,” he said. “The overall position is increased pressures on local authorities and services. As the figures show, we are not immune to inflation and the cost of living increases.”

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Cllr Ross said the administration “seriously considered” whether a tax hike was necessary and whether they could raise it by less, but the government funding package and inflation gave them no other choice.

The SNP argued this wasn’t the time to raise tax and rent unnecessarily while inflation “runs riot” across the country.

Councillor David Alexander, leader of the SNP group said.: “We’ve balanced the books with a 3% increase in Council Tax. We are really concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on people in Fife already without piling on 5% in rents and 5% in Council Tax.”