Think-Tank Comments On Parties' Council Tax Plans

8 April 2016, 08:17 | Updated: 8 April 2016, 08:19

Council tax reform proposals put forward by the SNP, Labour and the Greens will make the charge more proportionate to property values, a think-tank has found.

The Resolution Foundation has modelled the impact of the three parties' plans in a new report.

The SNP wants to maintain the council tax system while increasing council tax for those in the top bands E to H, and helping lower income households through the council tax reduction system.

Most households would be unaffected and the package of reforms is expected to raise around £100 million.

This would be a "progressive revenue increase'', the report found, with the richest fifth of households expected to account for half of the tax rise.

It found that the average cash loss for the richest tenth of households would be £125 - over 10 times the average loss across the bottom half of the income distribution, at #11.

As a share of income, the richest tenth of households will lose three times as much as the bottom half.

It adds that some households will actually be better off as a result of the more generous council tax reduction scheme.

The report notes that the Labour and Green proposals are also progressive and would mean higher tax bills for those in expensive properties and lower bills for those with lower value properties.

Their plans also include a revaluation of properties not proposed by the SNP.

A revaluation would have a significant impact given the Commission On Local Tax Reform's finding that the majority of properties in Scotland are in the wrong band given current values.

The Green Party proposal is "very close to proportional'', but - given the intention to raise taxes for public services - is a substantial tax increase for large numbers of households. Those in the lowest value properties would receive large tax cuts.

The Labour Party's plan is "less proportionate'' but would be a small tax cut for the majority of households, the report states.

Adam Corlett, of the Resolution Foundation, said: "It's encouraging that while the proposals offered by Scottish parties differ in design and by the amount they raise, all improve the proportionality of the system.

"The upcoming Scottish election looks set to be a key battleground for progressive taxation of properties - as well as incomes.

"It's a debate that will likely benefit lower income households in the round, whichever party prevails, and one which parties across the UK should look to.''

SNP Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "This expert analysis shows that our council tax reforms are indeed progressive and a significant improvement on the current system - and will generate £100 million more each year, which we'll invest in our schools.''