Game-changer? Commission on local tax reform

(adapted from a Scottish Government news release dated 20 February 2015, 09:15)

“The Commission on Local Tax Reform will consider progressive, workable and fair systems, taking into account domestic and international evidence on tax powers and wealth distribution, the autonomy and accountability of local government and the impact on individuals who pay the tax.”

Marco Biagi MSP

Full wording of news release below the cut

Membership and remit announced.

Members have been appointed to the Commission on Local Tax Reform to look at fairer systems of local taxation.

Eleven representatives of political parties and the finance, law and advice sectors will examine alternatives to the council tax to fund local government services.

The Commission will be co-chaired by Local Government Minister Marco Biagi and President of COSLA Councillor David O’Neill. The Commission will meet for first time on February 23 and will report to the Scottish Government and COSLA in the autumn.

Marco Biagi said: ‘The Scottish Government believes the current council tax system is unfair and we are acting on our manifesto commitment, and the recommendations of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, to look at alternative approaches to local taxation.

‘The Commission on Local Tax Reform will consider progressive, workable and fair systems, taking into account domestic and international evidence on tax powers and wealth distribution, the autonomy and accountability of local government and the impact on individuals who pay the tax.

‘The members bring a broad range of expertise and experience and I look forward to starting this important work.’

David O’Neill said: ‘A great deal of work lies ahead, but this Commission is a chance to take a step back and think about the best way to pay for the local services that communities rely on every day.

‘Across Scotland people are looking for the debate to break new ground, and that’s why I am determined that this Commission will be listening to people and organisations from all parts of the country, and setting out what it would take to give our local communities a real say about what matters most to them, and the best way to pay for it.’

Commission members

  • Councillor Susan Aitken, SNP Local Government Convenor and Leader of SNP Group, Glasgow City Council;
  • Councillor Catriona Bhatia, Leader of Liberal Democrat Group and Deputy Leader, Scottish Borders Council;
  • Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment (Co-Chair);
  • Councillor Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Leader of the Independent Group at COSLA;
  • Councillor Rhondda Geekie, Leader Of East Dunbartonshire Council and Leader of Labour Group at COSLA;
  • Dr Angela O’Hagan, Research Fellow in the Institute for Society and Social Justice Research and Convenor of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group;
  • Isobel d’Inverno, Convenor of the Tax Committee of the Law Society of Scotland and Director of Corporate Tax at Brodies LLP;
  • Mary Kinnonmonth, Manager of Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau and Member of Citizens Advice Scotland Board of Directors;
  • Dr Jim McCormick, Scotland Advisor, Joseph Rowntree Foundation;
  • Councillor David O’Neill, President of COSLA (Co-Chair);
  • Don Peebles, Head of CIPFA Scotland;
  • Alex Rowley, MSP for Cowdenbeath and Shadow Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment;
  • Andy Wightman, Writer and Researcher, representing the Scottish Green Party.

The Commission’s Remit is:

“To identify and examine alternative systems of local taxation that would deliver a fairer system of local taxation to support the funding of services delivered by local government. In doing so, the Commission will consider:

  • The impacts on individuals, households and inequalities in income and wealth;
  • The wider macro-economic, demographic and fiscal impacts, including housing market and land use;
  • The administrative and collection arrangements that apply, including the costs of transition and subsequent operation;
  • Potential timetables for transition, with due regard to the 2017 Local Government elections.
  • The impacts on supporting local democracy, including on the financial accountability and autonomy of Local Government;
  • The revenue raising capacity of the alternatives at both local authority and national levels.

In conducting its work, the Commission will engage with communities across Scotland to assess public perceptions of the emerging findings and to reflect this evidence in its final analysis and recommendations.

The Commission will be supported by an independent secretariat comprising staff seconded from COSLA and the Scottish Government.

Contact Information

SG Communications SGCommunications@scot.gov.uk
Michael Berry michael.berry2@scot.gov.uk

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