Argyll and Bute to reconsider council tax rise following positive talks

Council leader Robin Currie said he will recommend the council tax freeze is introduced.

Argyll and Bute will now look to introduce the council tax freeze.
Argyll and Bute will now look to introduce the council tax freeze. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Argyll and Bute Council will reconsider freezing council tax after previously announcing a 10% increase, it has been announced.

Council leader Robin Currie said he will advocate for the freeze at a special meeting next month following a series of positive talks with the Scottish Government.

Along with Inverclyde Council, the local authority initially defied the Scottish Government’s freeze.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, who is also in charge of Scotland’s finances, previously said councils who raised council tax would not receive a share of the additional £62.7 million in extra funding.

The turnaround comes as Argyll and Bute Council said it has been given “extra assistance” to deal with the impact of severe weather support.

Mr Currie said: “We can now look at freezing council tax for the coming year.

“We have been lobbying hard for equal support for Argyll and Bute which reflects the incredibly severe impact of unprecedented severe weather in October last year.

“We made a very strong case for that to the Scottish Government at a meeting we asked for in January this year.

“We have continued to press ministers ever since on a range of other issues. We are of course delighted that they have listened to our calls for severe weather support and that they have now provided for Argyll and Bute that extra assistance that we are fighting for.”

The council states additional funding totalling around £6.26 million means the overall financial circumstances are improved.

That included £2.3 million for the impact of severe weather in October and £1.1 million for Argyll and Bute through the additional £62.7 million if it agrees the freeze.

It would also see the council receive £2.86 million through the share of £147 million funding for a freeze.

Mr Currie added: “We see this as acknowledgement of a number of significant issues.

“It is recognition of the unique challenges that Argyll and Bute faces, which we fight for at every possible opportunity.

“It reinforces the important role of local government.

“And it supports what has been our priority all along – protecting vital local jobs and services.

“I will be recommending that we freeze council tax for this year at a special meeting of the council.”

The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.

The Inverclyde Council rise would have seen an 8.2% rise this year and 6% the following year.

However, earlier this month, council leader Stephen McCabe said he had “reflected” on discussions with Ms Robison, instead offering a “compromise”.

He wrote to the Deputy First Minister to state he would use the additional funding to offer a council tax rebate to Inverclyde residents, amounting to a freeze.

Mr McCabe said: “I have reflected on the discussions at the full council yesterday and the desire expressed by many of my fellow councillors that Inverclyde residents should benefit from the funding on offer from the Scottish Government for a council tax freeze,” he said.

“I have therefore written today to the Deputy First Minister proposing a way in which this can be achieved.

“If the Government is willing to make this funding available on a recurring basis, baselined into the local government settlement for 2024-25 and beyond, I would be prepared to recommend to the council that we use the funding for 2024-25 to provide Inverclyde households with a one-off rebate on their council tax charge for 2024-25, which would mean that Inverclyde residents would receive a freeze in their council tax for 2024-25 in line with the First Minister’s national policy priority.”