Thursday February 23rd 2023
Council tax in East Lothian is set to go up by seven per cent from April as councillors try and plug a £17 million gap in next year’s budget.
The increase, which is understood to be among the highest proposed by any local authority, will bring an extra £5million into the council for 2023 to 2024.
Councillors are also being asked to agree to introduce a £35 a year garden waste collection charge for homes and reduce household waste collections from fortnightly to every three weeks.
Council leader Norman Hampshire said while the proposed council tax increase is unlikely to be popular, if approved at next week’s budget meeting, the alternative of cutting community support and services would be worse.
And he called for more funding to be given to East Lothian from the Scottish Government pointing out the county received the third lowest amount of revenue per head of population of all 32 local authorities in Scotland.
He said: “I had to make a choice between cutting community grants or going with a seven per cent increase in council tax.
“If we were given the money we should be we would not have to make these choices.
“I think East Lothian is being treated unfairly.”
Mr Hampshire was referring to the SPICe report produced for the Scottish Government, which showed East Lothian near the bottom of the pile when it comes to funding.
It revealed only cities Aberdeen and Edinburgh received less revenue per head of population than East Lothian in the Scottish Government settlement for the coming financial year.
East Lothian receives £1,999 per head with the Scottish average £2,221 per head and neighbouring Midlothian receiving £2,146.
The council leader said: “Only Aberdeen City and Edinburgh City receive less per person and they have secondary incomes from things like parking charges in the towns, which we do not have.
“There is no recognition of the growth we are dealing with or that we are a rural county.”
The budget proposals, which also include a five per cent rent increase for council tenants, will go before a virtual meeting of councillors on Tuesday next week for approval and have been drawn up after cross party discussion.Tweet Share on Facebook