A report launched in Dundee has called for a new system of tax to boost the ailing coffers of Scottish councils.
Left-wing think tank The Reid Foundation and the Unison union launched their call for tax reform at the STUC annual congress, which took place in the Caird Hall on Monday.
Delegates were told “new and alternative sources” of cash were needed by local councils, including a potential reform of council tax, to make it “fairer” on those less able to pay.
Professor Mike Danson, lead author of the report, believes the burden should be shifted away from council tax and on to those who own property.
He said: “Some changes will require time to explore, plan and introduce but it is economically efficient and effective to shift the tax burden on to property and land owners and away from council taxpayers. This would make the tax system more progressive and based on ability to pay.”
Addressing the conference in Dundee, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The council tax in its current form has to go.
“It is not fair and it is not fit for purpose.”
The Tele took to the streets outside the Caird Hall to ask readers what needs to change.
Retired local government officer Ray Lee, 76, said: “For an older couple like my wife and me, to be charged more for having a garden would be unfair.”
Mr Lee, from Fife, added: “The council could use various methods to increase funding – the tourism tax in Edinburgh is an interesting one.
“There is room for some careful manoeuvres.”
Elizabeth Fairweather, 76, of Arbroath, a retired civil servant, said: “People who are council tenants and private landlords shouldn’t be paying the same amount as someone who owns acres of land.
“The council tax should be based more on the size of land and whether or not you own or rent it.”
Student Matthew Higgins, 18, said: “First-time buyers would really benefit from a council tax reform – it’s a struggle as it is trying to get on the property ladder.”
Another resident, Andrew Digance, from Arbroath, said: “People should be taxed over a certain threshold, if the property costs more they will have more disposable income to tax.
“Should we increase it for everyone – those in flats? Probably not, no.”
At present, council tax in Scotland is calculated based on the value of a property, ranging from band A (the lowest values) to band H (the highest).
Dundee City Council sets the value of band D, with the other bands then falling into place as a smaller or larger proportion of that value.
Councillors agreed a 3% rise for the 2019-20 year during the budget discussions in February.
Unison claims local councils like Dundee are under “severe financial pressure” as a result of austerity.
Council umbrella body Cosla has “long said” the current model of council revenue is not sustainable.
But the Scottish Government said its latest budget agreed earlier this year would deliver more funding to authorities.
A spokeswoman said: “The package of local tax reform measures announced at the budget will deliver the most significant empowerment of local authorities since devolution.”
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “We will be studying the details of the report.”