More than 700,000 Scottish households are facing big increases to their council tax bills under plans to reform the system by increasing the burden on high-value properties.
The proposal would result in people living in homes in bands E, F, G and H having their council tax hiked on a sliding scale of between 7.5 and 22.5 per cent.
It would mean the average annual council tax bill would increase by £139 for a band E property, £288 for a band F, £485 for a band G, and £781 for a band H.
Some of the details were leaked earlier this month, but the move has now been confirmed by the Scottish Government, which has launched a consultation on the policy.
It said the increases could come into effect as early as April next year, but may be phased in over three years to reduce the impact on households.
It is estimated that the policy would raise an extra £176m for councils, and would affect around 28 per cent of all properties in Scotland, or 715,312 in total. Houses in bands A, B, C and D would be unaffected.
The Scottish Government said the policy would make the council tax system fairer, as it would address the fact that people in the lower bands currently pay a higher proportion of the value of their property than those in the higher bands.
Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur said that even after the rises, the average council tax in Scotland would still be lower than anywhere else in the UK.
“We know that many people are struggling with their finances and our council tax reduction scheme is there to ensure nobody has to pay a council tax bill they cannot be expected to afford, regardless of what band they are in,” he added.
SNP councillor Katie Hagmann, resources spokeswoman for Cosla, which represents local authorities, said the change would make the system “fairer and more progressive” and urged people to have their say by responding to the consultation.
But Scottish Conservative local government spokeswoman Liz Smith described the plans as a “bombshell” that would “terrify people struggling to cope” during the cost of living crisis.
“People across Scotland should not be bearing the brunt of filling the black hole in councils’ finances,” she added.
“Local authorities are in dire straits due to savage cuts being imposed on their budgets year after year by SNP-Green ministers.
“Typically, those ministers are once again passing the buck to councils to make impossible decisions. Local authorities will either have to slash crucial day-to-day services or hammer people with enormous council tax bills, or a mixture of both.”