Reform Scotland

Budget should be first step towards real local empowerment

The Scottish Parliament is today expected to vote through the final stages of the Budget (Scotland) (No3) Bill.

The agreement the Scottish Government has reached with the Scottish Greens will pass to local authorities the power to make decisions on introducing work-place parking levies and a tourism tax.

Claims that the Scottish Government is responsible for imposing new taxes are simply incorrect. It will be up to individual councils to decide whether such levies are appropriate for their area. 

The merits of such charges are for each local authority to debate. Different councils will make different choices about whether and how to proceed, according to local opinion and need. Reform Scotland believes that devolving more powers to local authorities to allow them to develop individual solutions is a good thing, and that the measures contained in the Budget should only be a first step.

Commenting, Reform Scotland Director Chris Deerin said:

“It is perfectly possible to oppose the imposition of the new levies but believe it should be up to local authorities to decide. Scotland is too centralised and these measures will strengthen local accountability and allow decisions to be made on community need. It’s no longer the case that ‘the man in Whitehall knows best’, but neither does the man or woman in St Andrew’s House. It is disappointing that some political parties who have previously argued in favour of localism are not embracing this principle.

“Just as the UK Government is not responsible for the increase in income tax in Scotland because it devolved the power to Holyrood, neither would the Scottish Government be responsible for introducing a work-place parking charge by devolving the power to local authorities. 

“Scotland is a diverse nation. If the Scottish Government is truly serious about local empowerment, these proposals must be only the first small step in greater devolution to our local authorities.”