Rhoda Grant MSP, has demanded action to protect families and households across Orkney who are suffering a ‘cost of living crisis’ caused by the pandemic.
The Labour MSP who represents the Highland and Islands has said that statistics published by the Scottish Government last week have revealed the extent of the cost of living crisis facing the people of Orkney with many seeking help with council tax exemptions.
Scottish Government statistics have revealed as of last November almost half a million Scots – 497,170 people – were receiving council tax exemption due to financial pressures.
In Orkney, as many as 1,410 have been forced to apply for council tax exemption.
The Council Tax freeze in place between 2008-09 and 2016-17 ended and the 2017-18 Local Government Finance settlement included an agreement between the Scottish Government and local government for locally determined Council Tax increases to be capped at 3 per cent. Council Tax Reduction in Scotland 2017-2018
Since the ending of the Council Tax freeze Orkney Islands Council has increased the amount payable.
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Rhoda Grant said:
“The economic shockwaves of this pandemic have rocked families and households in Orkney, with many thousands facing falling earnings and rising costs.
“Make no mistake, the people of Orkney are facing a cost of living crisis. It is simply unacceptable that 1,410 people in Orkney have been forced to apply for council tax exemption.
“The SNP has been too slow to act to support businesses, protect workers and protect family finances – at the coming budget, Scottish Labour will fight for a fair economic recovery for all that puts the people of Scotland first.
“It’s time to put households and families across Orkney at the heart of our economic recovery.”
Rhoda Grant also said that statistics have revealed that by the end of December 2020, 1,207 people had applied for debt moratoria in Scotland under emergency measures brought forward by her party and contained in both the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020.
The introduction of new provisions on the statutory moratorium and the revised fee structures in place for accessing bankruptcy are part of emergency measures brought in by both the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020:
As at 31 December 2020, 1,207 applications for moratoria had been granted under the new powers.
There were 183 applications for moratoria granted in December 2020 under the new legislation, 90 more than in December 2019 under the previous provisions.
In the period between 27 May and 31 December 2020, there were 1,435 new applications for bankruptcy which benefitted from the reduced application fee – 1,125 (78.4%) of which paid no application fee at all. Scottish Statutory Debt Solutions Statistics: December 2020
On top of the pressures of council tax and personal debt, millions of Scots are set to be hit by inflation-busting water prices – despite Scottish Water and its subsidiaries holding reserves of over half a billion pounds, commented Rhoda Grant.
Rhoda Grant is challenging the SNP to take action to support thousands of Scottish families facing a cost of living crisis due to collapsing earnings and spiralling costs.