THE Council Tax freeze should be welcomed as long as it is properly funded by the government, the man in charge of Glasgow’s budget said.

Humza Yousaf announced the freeze earlier this week and Richard Bell, City Treasurer, said it caught him, like others, by surprise.

It means next year he won’t have to tell council taxpayers in Glasgow they need to fork out more, which he said people will be glad of.

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However, he struck a note of caution that once the details are ironed out it must mean it is properly fully funded and doesn’t leave the council short-changed the following year.

Councillor Bell told the Glasgow Times: “Is it all the money to cover whatever council tax rise we thought we would have?

“Is it a one-off payment or will it be included every year?”

He explained if it is a one-off, never to be repeated, payment then it only means a cut the following year, when the cash goes back to what it was.

He added: “Then, it depends on how much is the settlement, will the Scottish Government just balance it by giving less money in the local government settlement?

“If it is funded, I don’t understand the objections.”

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He said it is now for him and local government colleagues to ensure they get the right deal.

He added: “It is now up to us to have serious discussions with the government.”

Bell, who has been Treasurer in Glasgow since 2020, has had to deal with budget deficits leading to tens of millions of pounds of cuts.

Councils, he said, needed to accept the realpolitik of the situation and recognise the cost of living crisis is of greater importance to the public right now than the political dynamics between local and national government.

He added: “If someone is saying don’t put up the council tax and we’ll give you the money, I’m not going to shut the door in their face.

“Most folk will think ‘at least the council tax isn’t going up’, they don’t care about the details of the Verity House agreement.”

Bell, said: “Humza Yousaf has listened to people on the cost of living and the Rutherglen Hamilton west by-election had a part to play.

“He has responded to that. We can argue about the process but this can’t be about principle or damaged egos.”

He said the freeze is an opportunity to reform council tax and put in place a fairer system.

A previous freeze that lasted ten years, was intended to allow for the council tax to be scrapped in line with an SNP manifesto commitment.

The city’s finance chief said this must be seen as an opportunity to finally reform the tax to make it fairer.

He said: “No-one likes the council tax. “We have been saying to the First Minister let's get a benefit from this.

“The freeze is an opportunity to iron out these problems.

“We have to grasp the nettle with the council tax.”