There are 32 local authorities in Scotland and Orkney with a population of 21,700 is the smallest.
Orkney Islands Council (OIC)
Orkney has the second highest rate in Scotland for spending on public services at £3,558 per person. The local authority is responsible for schools, social services, housing, recreational facilities, refuse collection, planning and the funding of many other services and organisations that directly affect us.
The recently published Scottish Local Government Financial Statistics 2015-16 shows us where both our local and national taxes are being spent with Education by far the largest use of local funding closely followed by Social Services .
After a council tax freeze agreed in 2007-8, charges in Orkney are set to rise by 3%, which would increase the Band D annual charge to £1,068. Orkney , has almost half of its dwellings in the lowest bands of A – B and very few in the highest bands E – H (based on 1991 market values). It did have the second lowest Band D rate in Scotland at £1,037 compared to the Scottish average of £1,149.
The Band D rate is set by the local authority and the other rates are calculated from it. Currently Orkney has the lowest figure in Scotland for Council Tax Income collected on chargeable dwellings.
The Council Tax Reduction (CTR ) scheme was introduced in 2013 to help the most vulnerable in our communities including people on low incomes, pensioners and single parents. In Orkney this amounts to £733,000 and is made up of money from the Scottish Government, UK Government and the OIC.
Council Tax Income for Orkney, 2015 – 2016 on chargeable dwellings brought in £7,879,000 and for non-domestic properties ( of which there are 2,106) £9,136,000. The Rateable Value (RV) of non-domestic properties is broadly based on the rental value and is not a reflection of the profitability of the business or organisation. The RV is determined by Scottish Assessors who are independent of both the Scottish Government and local authorities.
There is a range of rate reliefs available for non-domestic properties. The figures for Orkney are:
- Empty property: £327,000
- Charities:£ 855,000
- Sports Clubs: £53,000
- Disabled Persons relief: £225,000
- Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS): £1,274,000
- Religious Exemption: £161,000
- Rural Rate Relief: £259,000
- Renewable Energy Relief Scheme: £400,000 (introduced 01/04/2010)
- Other: £28,000
- Total: £3,582,000
*Other includes Hardship and Enterprise Areas.
All local authorities also have revenue reserves and assets.
‘On 1 April 2015 local authorities [in Scotland] had total revenue reserves of £1.84 billion; over the course of the year this increased by £0.05 billion (2.6%) to stand at £1.89 billion on 31st March 2016’
Police and Fire Services
Police and Fire Boards were until 31st March 2013 responsible for providing police and fire services for their constituent Councils. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 created Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, which replaced the former Police and Fire Boards. These new bodies are classified as central government, so are no longer included in figures on local government from 2013-14 onwards.