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Orkney Council Tax Rise: Cost of Living Crisis

Yesterday, Tuesday 22nd February, councillors in Orkney agreed to a rise in Council Tax of 3%.

The rise comes when islanders are facing the massive hike in energy prices and the rising costs of rent, basic essentials, including food, mostly due to Brexit. It is a cost of living crisis.

Link: Energy Price Cap Increase Forcing Even More Islanders Into Poverty

Orkney Islands Council is set to spend £91,260,200 on the services it provides.

The Scottish Government has allocated £84,715,000 to OIC which includes £15,528,000 ring fenced money.

 £11.826m will be used from Orkney’s reserve fund.

In Orkney Band D properties will rise to £1244.73

Leader of OIC, James Stockan, has accused the Scottish Government of providing a ” poor settlement” to Orkney. He conceded that “that households across Orkney are facing considerable financial challenges of their own.”

You can listen to the councillors here: Soundcloud

In the Scottish Budget announced on 10th February, the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes included funding of £150 to every household in receipt of Council Tax Reduction in any Band and £150 to all other occupied households in Bands A to D. (73% of all households, will receive financial support through their council tax bill or a direct payment through this funding)

Kate Forbes said:

“We will provide £150 to every household in receipt of Council Tax Reduction in all Council Tax bands. The Council Tax Reduction Scheme already identifies households in greatest need and will allow us to target this intervention.

“Secondly, I will provide local authorities with funding to pass on £150 to other occupied household in Bands A to D in Scotland.  In total, combining these elements, 1.85 million, or 73% of all households, will receive £150 of support.

“I know that the cost of living crisis is affecting households who are not in receipt of benefits, who are not claiming a Council Tax Reduction. And they are facing hardship too. We must seek to do what we can to prevent those households and families on the edge of the poverty line, from falling over it.”

James Stockan has called the Scottish Government funding to Orkney ‘the worst in Scotland’. In a letter (unanswered) he sent to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon ,he said that the formula that the Scottish Government uses to establish the distribution of funding to Councils results in significantly less funding for Orkney.

On Council tax, the Scottish Government has said that households will receive a singular payment – households receiving Council Tax Reduction will receive payment irrelevant of their Band and for those who pay regular Council Tax, eligible households in Bands A to D will receive payment.

Elections take place on Thursday May 5th to Orkney Islands Council. If you need to register to vote please follow this link: Register to Vote in Scotland All those aged 16 years and over living in Orkney can vote.

Fiona Grahame

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