Date 11 April 2007
Edinburgh's local government union warns council income tax
could hit services and democracy
UNISON, the union that represents Edinburgh's local government
workers, today attacked plans from some political parties for
a centralised income tax to replace the council tax.
The union said the proposals would remove decisions and fund-raising
powers further away from local people. The union also said that
the proposed level of the nation-wide tax could leave a £450m
hole in local government services. Many people would end up
paying more for fewer public services.
John Mulgrew, UNISON Edinburgh Branch's lead negotiator, said
, "The independent review of local government finance estimated
that in order to meet current spending local income tax would
need to be set at a rate of 6.5%, but this rate will hit working
"The lower rates proposed by some parties may look attractive
but would mean huge cuts in public services. In Edinburgh we
fear this would mean turning back the clock from the investment
we have seen in things like childrens services, child protection
and education. "
"Even at a rate of 3.75% - which would still mean service cuts
- a couple (for example a newly qualified social worker and
home care co-ordinator) would pay £193 a year more than the
average just now", he added.
Branch Secretary George Lee said, "UNISON wants a fairer Council
Tax with more benefits at the bottom and higher bands at the
top. Income tax would penalise many households and the rich
would just avoid it anyway in tax havens. At least you can't
hide your house".
"UNISON believes local government should have more, not less
control over its finances. Currently local government only controls
20% of the money it needs to provide services, and 80% is provided
centrally. Financial experts and those who stand up for local
democracy are unanimous that the link between raising their
own funds and deciding their own services is key to having local
councils accountable to their voters.
"It is a nonsense for parties which advocate more local control
to want to want to concentrate decisions centrally."
Funding local government via a centralised tax means local
councils will have virtually no power to set their own budgets.
They would become simply administrators of Executive decisions.
It will also break the direct link between those who pay for
services and their councillor.
For Further Information Please Contact: George Lee - 07817315312,
John Mulgrew, 0131 220 5655, John Stevenson (Communications
Officer) 07876 795 018.