Scottish Borders Council will next week discuss a proposal to freeze Council Tax at the current level, which is the sixth lowest in mainland Scotland, for 2021/22.
This follows confirmation that the Scottish Government will compensate local authorities who choose to freeze Council Tax in the next financial year to help protect the household incomes of residents.
For the Scottish Borders this would equate to a one-off payment of £1.95m – broadly the equivalent to a three per cent increase. An indicative three per cent inflationary increase for 2021/22 had been assumed in the Council’s financial plans agreed in February 2020.
Councillor Mark Rowley, Executive Member for Economic Regeneration and Finance, said: “At such a difficult financial time for households across the area a freeze in Council Tax will provide some stability and, due to the compensation from the Scottish Government, will not adversely affect the money available for the Council to deliver its services during 2021/22. However, it is crucial to emphasise that if this additional £1.95m is not provided on a recurring basis, by the Scottish Government, then a three per cent increase in Council Tax would have to be put in place for 2022/23 to make up the shortfall, before any additional funding could be raised to invest in services.”
With the Scottish Government budget not being finalised until 9 March, which will confirm the financial settlement for local authorities, Scottish Borders Council has taken the decision to delay setting its budget until 19 March. An early decision regarding Council Tax rates will however enable household billing to be completed within the normal timescales.