Cruise Arrivals


OIC agrees council tax freeze — if Scottish Government can deliver more funding

OIC leader, Councillor Heather Woodbridge, proposed the amendment.

Council tax will be frozen in Orkney at the current rate — but only if if the Scottish Government comes good on a last-minute offer of more money for local authorities.

This decision came as an amendment to the original proposal put before all islands councillors in a special meeting of Orkney Islands Council (OIC) policy and resources committee this Tuesday.

The paper in front of members recommended a ten per cent increase in council tax. This would see the bill for Band D properties, for example, increased to £1,506.13 annually.

But discussions in recent days with the Scottish Government gave way to a change of tack. As a result of an additional over £1million being conditionally offered by the Scottish Government as part of an extra package of funding to local authorities across Scotland. This would be contingent on the appropriate funding being secured from Westminster as part of the spring budget.

The Scottish Government had previously offered all councils an amount of money equivalent to what would be brought in by five per cent increase in council tax, as an incentive to freeze the rate.

Following this new offer, OIC leader, Councillor Heather Woodbridge, adjourned the meeting briefly to discuss the change in situation, and later tabled an amendment proposing that Orkney’s council tax be frozen at the current rate — but only if this additional funding is guaranteed by the Scottish Government no later than March 10. If this does not transpire, the council will go ahead with the ten per cent increase.

This was approved by councillors, who in the same meeting agreed to make a dip of up to £20million into the Strategic Reserve Fund to finance general services. This comes in the face of a projected £27.1million funding gap in the years to come, and a now agreed savings target of £9million.

More to follow. Read full coverage of the budget meeting, including the forecast of “challenging” times ahead, in this week’s edition of The Orcadian — available online from Wednesday and in shops from Thursday.