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Budget (Scotland) (No 4) Bill: Stage 3

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

Local government has been hit, as always. Council tax bills are going up and services will be poorer. Jobs will be lost, the grass will not get cut and Christmas has been cancelled in North Lanarkshire. Music tuition is being pared back, which is not good for the culture of Scotland. Nothing has changed since last week.

Earlier today, I asked the First Minister how she responded to Citizens Advice Scotland’s statement that council tax arrears is now its number 1 debt issue. She spoke some words but did not really give an answer. When I spoke in the debate last week, I said that we have seen council tax rise year after year and suggested that we would see council tax poverty if we had not already done so. It seems that I was right.

The citizens advice bureaux network in Scotland is seeing more and more people struggling to pay council tax due to general pressures on household budgets. Last year, it helped more than 2,000 people with council tax debts totalling nearly £7 million. That works out at around £3,000 per person.