Council tax freeze announcement draws mixed reaction from Buckie councillors
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THE surprise announcement of a council tax freeze in Scotland has provoked contrasting reactions from two of Buckie's councillors.
Announcing the measure on Tuesday, September 17, First Minister Humza Yousaf described it as "the SNP delivering for people when they need it the most" – but the plan has been criticised in the face of Moray Council's expected £18.2 million shortfall.
Councillor Sonya Warren (Buckie, SNP) said the measure would extend a helping hand to many families struggling due to the ongoing cost of living crisis.
She continued: "Although we don't know how it will be funded yet, in previous years the Scottish Government fully funded the difference.
"Until we know this I can't comment on the effect on the council's budget. This freeze will be welcomed by many people across the area who are struggling due to the cost of living crisis and the Brexit crisis.
"People are really feeling the cost of inflation and rising bills, so this will bring some welcome relief to people. We have about 24 per cent of you children in Moray living in poverty, many families struggle to pay all their bills, this will help them to heat their homes or feed their family. Every penny is a prisoner, and some families have nothing left after paying their bills each month.
"Knowing there won't be a rise in council tax will lift a little bit of the stress to them. Thankfully the Scottish Government are once again are listening to the people's needs, and mitigating against the harsh realities of the Westminster Tory government's cost of living and Brexit disaster."
Councillor Neil McLennan (Buckie Independent) gave a cautious welcome to the announcement but said many questions remained unanswered as to how it would be funded and what impact it would have on Moray Council's already stretched finances.
He said: "The government announcement of a council tax freeze will be welcomed by many but I hope the First Minister and government have the monetary resource and policy levers to make it actually happen.
"Announcements like these will need major funding injected into local authorities to allow for such statements to happen. For me, the whole budget setting process worries me greatly and I am concerned for the good citizens of Moray and across the country.
"I believe unnecessary cuts may come and the taxpayer will again be impacted by a budget. Moray needs visionary leadership alongside a collective of councillors ensuring services work and the worst affects of the cost of living crisis are mitigated against.
"We cannot have salami slicing nor uncoordinated things like reducing bin charges at one meeting, and then pushing up council tax in the next.
"We need an overall strategy and plan for the key issues of the day. Nationally and locally we now need visionary leaders setting out bold ambitions to tackle the crises of the day and being able to deliver on them."