AS we approach the Council’s Budget Day there are still many difficult decisions to be weighed up as we work to preserve and protect local services as best we can. 

I can confirm though that the SNP City Administration’s budget will not propose raising Council Tax.

By accepting the Scottish Government’s offer of funding to freeze Council Tax at current levels, we can ensure that this at least is one less cost increase households have to worry about while they’re still struggling daily with the cost-of-living crisis.

Council Tax remains badly in need of reform.

Although the Scottish Government has taken action to make it less regressive for people in lower-value homes and to protect lower-income households, it’s still an unfair tax – not only between households but also between different parts of Scotland

Glasgow, for example, has fewer high-value homes and so we raise less through Council Tax than Edinburgh, even though we have a bigger population and greater need.

I’ve long been making the case that local authority funding in general needs to be overhauled, with more focus on targeting deprivation and social challenges. That’s absolutely in keeping with the spirit of the Verity House Agreement between the Scottish Government and Scotland’s councils.

But while work goes on to find a sustainable and progressive way to fund local services, the freeze on Council Tax provides Glaswegians with some respite from other financial burdens, from soaring food bills and excessive energy charges to rising mortgage payments. And, contrary to what is sometimes claimed, it’s not only affluent households who’ll benefit from Council Tax being frozen. 

Very many ordinary working households in Glasgow pay Council Tax, and for many the depth and reach of this financial crisis is squeezing incomes to the limit.

On its own, the Scottish Parliament simply doesn’t have the powers to address the cost-of-living crisis in the way we would want it to.

Austerity, attacks on welfare and the vulnerable, rampant inflation and crippling interest rates are all the work of the Tories, and only Westminster has the levers to properly address them.

So it’s all the more important that where the Scottish Government is able to act, it does so. One way it can do so is to fund a Council Tax freeze. At least that’s one bill that won’t be any higher this year.

For Glasgow SNP, it’s a no-brainer that we’d grasp the opportunity to not have to pass our own constantly rising cost pressures on to Glasgow residents.

And I’m very pleased that following representations I made to the Deputy First Minister, she’s now also going to provide additional support for local authority areas like Glasgow by distributing the funding for the Council Tax freeze in a more progressive way.

That will increase Glasgow’s share by a very welcome £1.8 million. That doesn’t plug the spending gap we, like all of local government, face – it would take a Council Tax rise many times the rate of inflation to do that, and that’s something we in the SNP would never contemplate.

But what it does do is give the city council a bit more breathing space to freeze your bills while also protecting services wherever we are able to do so.

The SNP is of course a minority administration in Glasgow and the arithmetic means that council decisions need discussion and consensus between parties.

I appeal to all the other parties in the City Chambers to reject the political games we’re seeing play out in some other areas and put Glaswegian households first.

Together we can give them the confidence that this year, Council Tax is one bill that won’t be going up.