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Turning the truth upside down

Posted on September 16, 2013 by

There’s a fascinating, if rather dry, report published today on the website of the Economic and Social Research Council today. Written by David Bell, David Comerford and David Eiser and entitled “Constitutional Change and Inequality in Scotland”, it specifically concerns itself with whether the Scottish Government has the tools already to deal with inequality, particularly through an adjustment of the Council Tax.


The issue is a central part of Labour’s criticism of the Scottish Government. The party asserts that the Council Tax freeze is a “regressive” policy and opposes it, calling for increases in order to fund services. (Although it also adopted the freeze as a policy at the 2011 Holyrood election and some Labour councils have even cut the tax.)

This should be interesting, then.

The Scottish Labour website this morning issued a press release claiming that the ESRC report backs up their criticisms, quoting local government spokeswoman Sarah Boyack saying:

“Their underfunded council tax freeze has broken local government finance and leaves councils struggling to provide services.

Research shows that its people on low incomes who’ve been worst hit by the squeeze on council jobs and services. The SNP are silent on their proposals for their hated Local Income Tax.”

Heavens. The entire release is only a few lines long (we’ve quoted nearly all of it above), but drips irony from every syllable. We’re not sure a tax which has never been implemented can actually be “hated”, and of course Labour’s own attempts to come up with an alternative to the Council Tax were ignominiously abandoned years ago, having come up with absolutely nothing.

The bigger problem, though, is that the ESRC report doesn’t say any such thing. We’ve added some emphasis to the extracts below.


“The first two levers in Figure 1 relate to council tax, which is already wholly devolved to the Scottish Government. The marginal effect of raising revenue by increasing council tax rates on inequality is that inequality would slightly rise.

This is interesting since a tax rise typically reduces inequality: the fact that raising Council Taxes actually raises inequality can provide an explanation for the popularity of the Council Tax freeze and the commitment that the SNP have shown to their policy on this in the face of very tight financial settlements.

In contrast, an inequality-reducing revaluation of the Council Tax bands (so that lower bands are reduced and higher bands are increased) could achieve a relatively large reduction in inequality whilst raising £1m in additional revenue.

Why has this not been done? Jack McConnell ruled out a Council Tax revaluation at the time of the Burt Report on local taxation in Scotland in 2005. Perhaps losers would shout much more loudly than winners (and the fact that Council Tax liabilities are not that highly correlated with household income means that some poor losers will be found) and this means that politically a revaluation is difficult.”

And there’s more.

“Specifically, the scenarios we consider are:

Status Quo A: Council Tax abolition funded by a rise in the Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) by 4.4%, (equivalent to a basic rate of 24.4%).

The rationale for this scenario is that Figure 1 suggests raising revenue through the SRIT will reduce inequality whilst raising revenue through the Council Tax increases inequality. It is also a proxy for the Local Income Tax, which was SNP (and possibly Lib Dem) policy.

Status Quo B: A radical reform of local taxation through reducing council tax bands A-C by 75%, 50%, and 25% respectively, maintain band D at its current level, and increasing bands E-H by 50%, 100%, 200%, and 300% respectively.

This is revenue-raising overall and this extra revenue is given back to taxpayers via a reduction in the SRIT (of 0.8%; this is equivalent to a basic rate of income tax of 19.2%).


Status Quo A has a small effect on reducing inequality, as measured by the GINI. As shown in Figure 3, this results from the reduction in average income for those in the top 20% of the income distribution, combined with small increases in income for those in the lower four quintiles.

Status Quo B results in a smaller reduction in inequality as measured by the GINI, and by the 90-10 and 90-50 ratios. It actually sees a very slight increase in the 50-10 ratio though. This is because the widening Council Tax bands and reduced income tax helps the middle of the income distribution by more than it helps the bottom of the income distribution.

This scenario does have an impact, but the inequality-reducing effects of the council tax revaluation are largely cancelled out by the reduction in the SRIT.”

Okay, so who’s still with us? To be totally honest we’re not quite sure WE are, so let’s see if we can simplify that a bit.

Labour claim the report shows that the Scottish Government’s “underfunded council tax freeze has broken local government finance and leaves councils struggling to provide services”, and that “its [sic] people on low incomes who’ve been worst hit”. The party calls for an increase in the tax to alleviate their suffering.

But what the report says in reality is the opposite – that, unusually, “raising Council Taxes actually raises inequality”. Or in other words, that if you hike the tax, as Labour want, it’s the rich who’ll be the winners.

And what, while we’re here, of the options available to an independent Scotland?

“independence scenarios result in more substantial reductions in inequality:

Independence A (increase in benefit rates paid for by changes to the upper rate income tax threshold and rate) results in the poorest 20% of households having an increase in their weekly net income of about £19, while the richest 20% experience a decrease in weekly income of about £35.

Under Independence B, the incomes of the poorest 20% of households remain the same as under the base case, since the basic income simply replaces the benefits received by the bottom quintile. Households in the second and third quintiles experience substantial increases as the basic income more than compensates for the extra tax paid.

The richest 20% experiences a substantial decrease in their net incomes since they lose the benefits of the tax free band and the basic rate tax band on the first £44,000 of their earnings.”

So: not only are Labour lying about the effects of the freeze under a devolved government, but they’re also lying when they say that independence wouldn’t give the Scottish Government any more power to reduce inequality than it has now.

In fact, in all cases, the ESRC’s calculations show that changes requiring the powers of independence deliver far better results for the poorest 60% of Scotland’s population, and reduce inequality far more than anything achievable with devolved powers alone.

We don’t imagine the ESRC will raise a fuss over this heinous misrepresentation – as an impartial body they won’t want their non-political stance compromised, and perhaps more to the point they also surely won’t want to be the subjects of a concerted No-camp media smear campaign like the one endured by Martin Sime of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations a year ago. So we’re doing it for them.

And we’re sorry this post was rather harder going than our usual style. But we hope you made it all the way through, because the conclusions are pretty important. And we don’t just mean that whenever you read a Scottish Labour press release, assuming that the exact opposite of whatever it says is the truth is a pretty good rule of thumb.

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  1. 02 11 14 20:41

    Everything you know about the council tax freeze is wrong | Alistair Davidson

109 to “Turning the truth upside down”

  1. Brotyboy says:

    This is very interesting for those of us, (I suspect the vast majority) who would like to see Independence and a reduced level of inequality, and who believe there may be a causal relationship between the two.  And some cold hard facts won’t do any harm either.

  2. cadgers says:

    Thank goodness for your summary at the end. My eyes were beginning to cross. That is some cute kitten, looks feisty!

  3. muttley79 says:

    So SLAB are admitting they support greater inequality?  It would explain their actions over the last 20-25 years then.  P.S. Is that wee Lucy in the photo?

  4. The Man in the Jar says:

    I`ll take your word for it!

  5. proudscot says:

    I assume that this Labour Party website is composed by a combined effort from Jackie Baillie, Richard Baker and Duncan Hothersall, and scrutinised for any accuracies or facts to be weeded out by Johann’s scriptwriter, before being passed to Boyack for her to deliver the lies, which will then be printed in bold type by the compliant pro-Union Scottish press.

  6. Albalha says:

    Labour and the Unions in Scotland have been battering away at this for as long as I can remember. Their argument is that due to the freeze certain services go up in price; school meals, care services etc.

    As to who takes the hit I can cite a personal example. Angus council, relatively recently, introduced a miniscule fee for certain home care services, only those with the means to pay have to pay.

  7. Sneddon says:

    I have to believe labour  are liars who are just so twisted in their hatred of the scottish government they will spout bare faced lies OR labour are really that thick they don’t understand long words!
    Which is it?  Answers on a postcard to Jackanory

  8. call me dave says:

    Try this.
    and on the BBC too… They had to draft the London lot up of course to run the debate.

  9. Doug Daniel says:

    That certainly is “an fascinating” report, Stu 😛
    Of course, it’s not just Labour who say the council tax freeze is regressive. I know your favourite member of the Green party says so as well. I’ve always maintained that, as an INHERENTLY regressive tax, any change to it can only be regressive. True, the increase that those in Band H properties would get if there was no freeze is greater than the increase those in Band A properties would see in absolute terms, but a £10 increase to someone in a Band A property is likely to have a far harder impact than a £100 increase to someone in a Band H property.
    Council tax needs to be ditched, simple as that. It should be one of the first things the first post-independence government does.

  10. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Nice to see an impartial body coming up with facts and figures about household incomes in relation to Council Tax and local income tax, I think.
    Just on a personal level, I have never been one who has supported the Council Tax approach to raising revenue for Councils. My main concern over this form of taxation revolves around the situations, of which I believe there are many, where people have been living in the same house for decades. They may still be working, unemployed or retired whilst the value of their house has increased in value over time. They may well be in a situation where they have limited income but because their home of many years has increased in value they now face horrendous Council Tax bills which they struggle to pay.

    Why should people be forced to move house because their house valuation has increased whilst their income has gone down?

    People who own their own homes should not be punished in this way. I think the local income tax route looks to be a fairer solution, it allows people to remain in their homes that they have lovingly cared for, in some cases over generations. I understand that setting up a local income tax system will not be easy but I am sure in the long term it would benefit everyone. Everyone would be taxed on their individual ability to pay and NOT on how big or small their house was. The size of someone’s house should not be used as a basis as to determining their taxes due.

  11. titchyboy85 says:

    Or just abolish the Council Tax and replace it with a Land Value Tax. I like the idea,and it can always be offset with other tax reductions. It also stimulates investment, employment and affordable housing. Not housing bubbles, speculation and crippled budgets for infrastructure.

  12. panda paws says:

    Is that kitten saying Labour has got it arse over elbow in its (correct usage!) analysis?

  13. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Sorry Stu, forgot to complement you on the lovely photo of the wee kitten, as others have asked is that Lucy? 
    What a wee cutie! :D:

  14. Inbhir Anainn says:

    Apologies O/T
    A SERIES of six opinion polls on the upcoming referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future has been commissioned by broadcasters, STV.
    Says a STV media release: “STV is partnering with independent research company Ipsos MORI Scotland to provide STV News with a series of six opinion polls charting the views of Scottish voters in the run up to, and beyond, the independence referendum in September 2014.
    “Voters will be polled on how they intend to vote in the referendum, how they intend to vote in parliamentary elections and their views on the performance of the leaders of Scotland’s main political parties.
    “The data from each poll will be presented exclusively on STV News at Six and Scotland Tonight, with a full analysis of the results and the likely implications for Scottish politics.”

  15. muttley79 says:

    @Doug Daniel
    Agree completely.  SLAB have become a running joke, they complain about the freeze on the Council Tax, and then when the SNP and others campaign for independence, which would give us control over a lot of taxes, they fucking reject it.  Same about the Bedroom Tax, they moan about it, and yet reject the Scottish Parliament being in control of Welfare.  They really are an insufferable, irrational bunch.  They dodge responsibility something awful.  The Council Tax should be replaced by a more progressive one.

  16. Fairliered says:

    What about selective council tax rises – in Labour controlled Glasgow and North Lanarkshire, plus West Dunbartonshire to keep Jackie Baillie happy. Those of us in SNP council areas will be happy for them to make the sacrifice for us. However, will the voters in the labour areas be as happy with their “leaders” suggestion?

  17. david says:

    its quite awesome that 800 people from this site are attending saturdays rally. 

  18. muttley79 says:

    This kind of an article proves that I could never go into politics.  I would get so pissed off with SLAB’s liars and cheats that I would completely lose the plot with them.  You would need so much self discipline and restraint not to react to their constant bullshit.  I know politicians get a lot of abuse, but how pro independence politicians have been able to remain dignified and self disciplined in the face of raging hyenas, such as Lamont, Sarwar, Baillie, Murphy, Davidson, Harris etc over the last few years in particular,  I will never know.  

  19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Sorry Stu, forgot to complement you on the lovely photo of the wee kitten, as others have asked is that Lucy? “

    Nope, complete stranger.

  20. david says:

    its true mutley

  21. Juteman says:

    What is it about cats?
    They are useless things that make your house smell of pish, leave dead spuggies on your settee, and keep you awake at night with their howling outside. Cat owners should pay extra council tax. Give me a dog anyday.
    ‘Runs for cover.’

  22. DonDeefLugs says:

    o/t sorry if anyone else has already posted this but a new panelbase poll has Yes in the lead

  23. muttley79 says:

    What is true?

  24. naebd says:

    “raising Council Taxes actually raises inequality”
    I’m extremely smugly pleased that I’ve been right all along when arguing with James Mack of betternation that reducing the proportion of council spending funded by the Council Tax is progressive.

    Then again, this seemed kinda obvious.

  25. naebd says:

    Cheers ‘DonDeefLugs’ – I don’t imagine anyone on this indyref themed website has yet seen that poll, which was conducted a fortnight ago. 😉

  26. alexicon says:

    Just a wee thought when Labour councils plead poverty.
    UK wide, but I’m sure Scotland will be in that total.

  27. Murray McCallum says:

    It would be great to get rid of this tax as part of a well thought out, structured and simplified framework. A new system is only as complex as you chose to make it.
    We are currently dealing with centuries of tinkering and add-ons.

  28. TJenny says:

    Juteman – what are spuggies? Are they mice?

  29. Albalha says:

    I know you didn’t ask me but they are sparrows.

  30. Juteman says:

    Alison is a Dundonian, she kent what a ment. 🙂

  31. Sneddon says:

    DonDeefLugs – thanks for link, there are that many polls it’s easy to lose track.

  32. creigs17707repeal says:

    My gast is well and truly flabbered. Can someone pleae tell me exactly how Labour in Scotland could possibly think they would get away with such misrepresentation of the facts? Is it simply because they believe the BBC and MSM won’t call them on it and the lie will pierce the Scottish psyche and somehow become the truth? Have that bunch of losers ANYTHING truthful to say? Sarwar, Lamont, Bailie and now this and that’s just the last 10 days. I just hope many undecided voters are reading this here and seeing Labour for the scheming, bare-faced liars that they are.
    YES Scotland.

  33. DonDeefLugs says:

    Heh, got carried away. I saw the link on Facebook and thought it was new, sorry folks (red face smiley thing)

  34. TJenny says:

    Albalha – Thanks for that.
    Juteman – Don’t know who Alison is, but I’m from Edinburgh;-)

  35. DougtheDug says:

    As far as I know in return for freezing the council tax the Scottish Government gives additional funds to the councils in order that they don’t lose out from the freeze. The Government can’t freeze council tax rates so they’ve got to provide a carrot in order to get the councils to do it. It’s done as a deal not an instruction.
    Any council can opt out but if they do they don’t get the top up funds as they are provided purely to cover the costs of the freeze.
    Strangely enough no Labour council has opted out of the freeze even though they can.

  36. Albalha says:

    I’m Alison, as @juteman says a Dundonian like him hence the knowledge of spuggies!

  37. muttley79 says:

    Can someone pleae tell me exactly how Labour in Scotland could possibly think they would get away with such misrepresentation of the facts? Is it simply because they believe the BBC and MSM won’t call them on it and the lie will pierce the Scottish psyche and somehow become the truth?
    SLAB think they can get away with it because the MSM protect them as best they can.  Even that has limits though (Lamont at last week FMQs, and Baillie at the weekend).
    Have that bunch of losers ANYTHING truthful to say?
    No they have not. 

  38. Albalha says:

    Reporting Scotland leads with the health issues of Billy Connolly, bloody disgrace.

  39. TJenny says:

    Albalha – Ah I see, I thought Juteman thought I was Alison and knew all along. Anyway looking forward to meeting you both on Saturday in the Albanach or on the hill;-)

  40. Arbroath 1320 says:

    WOW! someone else calls them spuggies! 
    I thought I was the only one in the world to do that Juteman, and I’m a Fifer. 😆

  41. Albalha says:

    I’ve used my full name on occasion on the site, which is why it’s known, if that makes sense.
    Alison Balharry

  42. Juteman says:

    ” Anyway looking forward to meeting you both on Saturday in the Albanach or on the hill;-)”
    I’ll be wearing a recently arrived long sleeve black T-shirt. It has ‘I’m voting yes!’ on the front, but written in Dundonian. 🙂

  43. TJenny says:

    Albalha – all is now clear as I see what you’ve done with your handle being parts of your real name – and here was me thinking it was a Gaelic word – oops;-0

  44. david says:

    em votin yes ?

  45. rabb says:

    OT but has anyone else heard any stories about No voters attending the radio5live debate being called at home prior to the debate and being asked to accuse Yes voters of being racist and being coached?
    See here & here
    If this is true then it has to be exposed and stopped.
    I’m actually physically fucking raging right now!

  46. david says:

    surely no

  47. jim mitchell says:

    Maybe I am on my own on this one but i believe that the Labour party have actually done their best (worst) in the past to keep a level of inequality where tax is concerned just to maintain their existence, i,e. there will always be poor so therefor you will always need us, the pretense was given up with the arrival of Blair and Brown who instead decided to move the party to the right, but the lie of supporting the poor is still maintaned

  48. rabb says:

    your not on your own with that theory. It’s bang on the money. They have no intention of doing a single fucking thing about poverty because it’s what keeps them at the trough.

  49. Andy-B says:

    Hope not rabb, heres a link to the issue with some photos of the debaters


  50. Albalha says:

    Don’t know about the veracity of the NOers briefings for the 5 Live Debate, interestingly though the good speaker from the East End of Glasgow said they’d been encouraged to have a ‘rammy’.
    But without hearing directly form those involved difficult to know about tone, emphasis etc.

  51. muttley79 says:

    There is an interesting quote by Willie Rennie on Bella Caledonia:
    “To start talking about Scotland being under the cosh and undervalued by others may just stir up beliefs that Scotland should somehow be better. That’s what I think is dangerous.”
    Willie Rennie the gift that keeps on giving… 😀 😀

  52. Albalha says:

    Yes, re the handle trying to be too clever, mainly folk think it’s Alba – ha, hey ho.

  53. fordie says:

    @Arbroath 1320. Yes agree and with other posters too. But the level of a local tax should also represent which local services you may reasonably require – with some extra thrown in as support for the community. It shouldn’t just be set against ability to pay. How is that fair?
    Lucy looking gorgeous as always 🙂

  54. Juteman says:

    I could do that with my name.
    Mire! 🙂

  55. Albalha says:

    So Michael Reagan? (This game could go on for a while)!

  56. Juteman says:

    “But the level of a local tax should also represent which local services you may reasonably require – with some extra thrown in as support for the community. It shouldn’t just be set against ability to pay. How is that fair?”
    Think about it. You may not have children, but surely you want kids educated enough to be your doctor, dentist, etc? Take that to its logical conclusion.

  57. kendomacaroonbar says:

    Council tax should be abolished with all taxation coming through income tax, and funding of local authorities through central government.    Its bad enough pretending that NI deductions are anything other than income tax without creating an additional layer of council taxation that is paid through already taxed income.

  58. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Sorry for going O/T but it appears Panorama tonight is doing a programme about how London is still managing to remain the home of the tax avoidance industry at 20:30.
    From rabb’s post earlier concerning the attempted ‘coaching’ of NO voters by the BBC at today’s debate perhaps Panorama would be better employed investigating the absolute and total lack of impartiality at the BBC over Scotland’s independence referendum and their incredulous attempts at trying to rig each and every televised or radio debate on the topic!

  59. Albalha says:

    Re Labour and the most vulnerable in society. They tinkered around the edges of overhauling the Thatcher/Tory creation of, quite frankly in political terms, an ‘underclass’.
    At the end of the Five Live debate Sarwar was wittering on about ‘if they had power’, we’d have a living wage, end to zero hours contract and on and on and on.
    Granted they delivered the minimum wage but at the end of the day they deregulated banks as well and fell in love in with the casino bankers. Hell mend them.

  60. Atypical_Scot says:

    Probably to many peoples disdain, I cannot see the fairness of any tax applied to the masses that does not consider the individuals wherewithall – aka – means testing.  
    Someone help me out here;
    You have two dwellings of the same size, both occupied by a couple. One couple are both working, the other couple, one of them cannot for whatever reason. All three working individuals are on the similar salaries. One couple are more affected by the tax than the other. How is that fair?

  61. CameronB says:

    Re. Local government powers to adjust domestic property rates. Johnathan Swift would have had fun with today’s political bed-fellows.
    Raising the capital
    The report of the London Finance Commission

    “London’s population is equivalent to those of Scotland and Wales combined. Its economy is almost double the size of these nations together. Yet while the dynamic of devolution continues to offer new powers and financial freedoms to the governments in Edinburgh and Cardiff (and, indeed Belfast) there have been no proposals to increase the autonomy of London government. The Commission has received no evidence as to why London and other English city regions cannot be afforded the kind of decentralised power offered to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    ..Yet it is economic growth that the Commission sees as the potential prize of a further shift of financial and fiscal control to London. As the city population grows to nine and then ten million people by 2030, there will need to be massive investment in enabling infrastructure simply to accommodate these new residents and, indeed, commuters. Beyond this investment to keep pace with the population, the Commission is convinced that London would be better able to prioritise decisions about investment. Londoners know they need new railways, schools, homes, waste facilities and streets. Because of their day-to-day dependence on physical infrastructure, we believe London voters would be more likely than voters elsewhere in Britain to prioritise spending on longer-term investments.”

    Tony Travers
    London School of Economics and Political Science
    May 2013

    Council tax should be retained as a local tax but London government should be given the power and be required to hold periodic revaluations (undertaken by the Valuation Office, according to national practice), to determine the number of bands, to set the ratio of tax from band to band and to set the tax rate. A fully localised council tax of this kind would be part of a suite of local property taxes determined by London government
    (Part 4, Chapter 3).
    Re. Sarah Boyack. I remember her all ‘bright eyed and eager’ when she joined the teaching staff at the Heriot-Watt’s School of Town and Country Planning. That was about the time I realised the Planning profession had been mortally handbag-ed by Thatcher, and the students were being trained to conform to neo-liberal dogma.  I believe the school now forms part of Heriot-Watt’s School of Built Environment.
    Perhaps Ms. Boyack is a Fabian Socialist?

  62. Shinty says:

    OT but has anyone else heard any stories about No voters attending the radio5live debate being called at home prior to the debate and being asked to accuse Yes voters of being racist and being coached?
    See here & here
    ‘since the debate Mark & Viola have moved from DK to NO’ – says it all really.

  63. muttley79 says:

    I have no idea what Boyack believes in?… 

  64. Murray McCallum says:

    “… appears Panorama tonight is doing a programme about how London is still managing to remain the home of the tax avoidance industry at 20:30.”
    I’m surprised London has beat the likes of Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, parts of Caribbean etc to that title. But there you go another proud #1 for Boris. He can add this to global money laundering capital. London’s libel courts do a great global business too.

  65. ianbrotherhood says:

    Norman surges to 105 views…no stopping him now.

  66. HandandShrimp says:

    I find it increasingly difficult to discern any coherent policy from Labour on anything…oh for sure they hate the SNP but is that a policy?
    How can Labour, as Stu points out, come from supporting the freeze in 2011 and since then agreeing to reduce the council tax in some of the councils they run to then start complaining about the SG council tax freeze policy. I don’t know if they have noticed but wages have barely moved over the last 5 years whilst inflation has kept steady at about 3%, where would ordinary families find the money for tax rises?
    There is no integrity to their politics any more. Did they support the freeze in 2011 simply because it looked like the electorate favoured the policy or did they really believe, as the SNP did, that it was the right thing to do in the economic circumstances?
    Wonder if anyone will read this report as carefully as Stu has in Herald or the Scotsman? Do they have journalists these days or just mouthpieces for Labour’s press releases?

  67. CameronB says:

    Murray McCallun
    Those Caribbean centers of tax avoidance and money laundering tend to be British Crown Protectorates. Not news, but eighteen tax havens are Crown Dependencies or British Protectorates, also according to Panorama.
    Don’t shoot the messenger. 😉

  68. Arbroath 1320 says:

    ianbrotherhood says:
    Norman surges to 105 views…no stopping him now.

    I’m hoping the other road up Calton Hill is easier than the one Norman took, don’t fancy going up Norman’s route in my wheelchair. 😆


  69. Morag says:

    What Arbroath said.  I really hope they don’t go for that Plan B above.  If they did that, my council tax would be getting on for £8,000 a year.  It would be quite hard to find that even now, but once I’ve retired (fairly soon) it would be impossible.
    I thought I had a fairly decent pension fund, enough to keep me ticking over anyway, but returns have gone down so much I’m looking at half the pension income I thought I would have.  I worked hard to put quite a lot away, but it’s not really paying off.  I have savings, too, but the low interest rates mean that these lose money every year because the interest is less than the inflation rate.
    I’m now living alone in a home I love, my mother having died.  Her income of course died with her, leaving me to keep the house going alone.  I’m not complaining too hard, but if they put my council tax up to close on half my income, I won’t be able to stay.
    I know there are people a LOT worse off than me.  If push came to shove I could sell my beloved home, and a lot of its contents, and find somewhere a lot smaller.  But is this what the government wants?  To force retired people to give up their homes?
    Why is there so much importance placed on the value of the house where someone lives?  I don’t produce any more rubbish or use any more water or drive on any more roads just because I’ve got quite a big house.  The SNP used to support a local income tax.  Why can’t we move to that?  That way people will be paying what they can afford.

  70. Marian says:

    I would guess that Labour didn’t even bother to read the report but had a press release spin ready beforehand blaming the SNP for everything.

  71. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Just a wee heads up folks.
    Anyone going to the March and Rally on Saturday might think about taking a brolly or light waterproof.

  72. Morag says:

    But the level of a local tax should also represent which local services you may reasonably require – with some extra thrown in as support for the community. It shouldn’t just be set against ability to pay. How is that fair?
    Fordie, that’s sounding uncomfortably like the rhetoric that brought us the Poll Tax.

  73. CameronB says:

    Arbroath 1320
    Seriously, that IS the easy route.

  74. Simon says:

    Yes Council Tax is pretty regressive, so freezing it is the least they can do. I would much rather see root and branch tax reform as a priority after independence – rather than the dogs breakfast we have now of national tax, local tax, purchase tax, penalty tax on “sins” like booze & fags, and all the other little odd bits of tax that catch you out when you’re not expecting them. All of which add up to a regime where the richer you are the easier it is to avoid paying tax at all.

    I have a lot of sympathy for a land value tax – seeing as how the nation’s land is the number one common resource, limited in extent and shared by us all. Taxing people on how much of it they fence off for their own exclusive use would make a lot of sense, and if it were implemented carefully and at the right level, the majority of ordinary people, homeowners, renters, even farmers and business owners, would probably end up paying the same or more likely less.

  75. Morag says:

    Seriously, that IS the easy route.
    No it’s not.  How do you think a bus would get up that?  Get real.

  76. Morag says:

    Anyone going to the March and Rally on Saturday might think about taking a brolly or light waterproof.

    The BBC don’t have the rain, though they agree otherwise.  I just took delivery of 10 of these plastic rain ponchos with the Scotland logo on them.  I’ll bring a few just in case.

  77. TJenny says:

    Arbroath1320 – There are 3 routes up to the top of Calton Hill. The one shown in wee Norman’s vid is at the back of the hill ascending from Royal Terrace. The march is going up Waterloo Place into Regent Road which has a flight of stone/concrete steps and also a road up the side which the provided shuttle buses can use.

  78. CameronB says:

    I haven’t really done a proper search, so no links I’m afraid.
    I think it was in 1977 that a Royal Commission reported on the rating system and what to do. Re-value, re-rate or radical reform. The strongly preferred option was for local income tax. Re-valuation came next, though was considered a fudge. The least favoured option was the Poll Tax, which was strongly rejected as being unworkable and potentially damaging to the linkage between rural-urban taxation and service provision (i.e. urban centers would be dislocated from their rural hinterlands and subsequently pay a disproportional share in the costs, thereby undermining their viability as service providers).
    Perhaps this is why Thatcher decided it was to be the Poll Tax. There was just no alternative.

  79. CameronB says:

    I wasn’t thinking of the shuttle buses. That is the least steep path though, or is my memory playing tricks?
    I didn’t mean to be negative about the rally or the venue.

  80. tartanfever says:

    Arb, don’t worry about getting your wheelchair up the hill. There is an access road that runs behind the old Royal High School building that takes you up the hill without any steps (a couple of very flat speed bumps if I remember correctly). This gets you pretty much to the top. This is the route the bus will take I would think.

    Many of the paths are not stepped either, so you’ll be directed by stewards who will all have it in hand I’m sure.
    Plenty of people on hand as well that will take turns giving you a push as well.

  81. scottish_skier says:

    Anyone going to the March and Rally on Saturday might think about taking a brolly or light waterproof.
    Touch and go. Depends on the final position of the mini high pressure.

    I feel more comfortable predicting the referendum outcome though.

  82. tartanfever says:

    SS  – forgot that you were into meteorology – a man of many talents.

  83. Morag says:

    I wasn’t thinking of the shuttle buses. That is the least steep path though, or is my memory playing tricks?

    I didn’t mean to be negative about the rally or the venue.
    I don’t know for sure, as the last time I was there was the “hands around the parliament” demonstration in 1992.  However, the road that the bus takes, which is also used to get all the gear for the rally to the top, can obviously be walked and is not so steep.

    Anne tells me that the last bus will go up at 12.40, intending this to be before the marchers (or at least the ones who will want to use the gentler slope) get to the hill.  This is to leave the road clear for the people who want to take the easiest slope, wheelchairs and so on, with no vehicles on it.

  84. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Thanks everyone for your advice on routes up Calton hill. I’ll be coming with my partner/carer and her eldest daughter and 3 year old son who may or may not be in his buggy by the time we reach Calton hill. 😆

  85. Morag says:

    I feel more comfortable predicting the referendum outcome though.
    I bloody well hope so, after your performance in December last year! 😉

  86. Roger Terrett says:

    The best thing about taxing land is that it can’t be stashed in an overseas tax haven.

  87. CameronB says:

    However, the road that the bus takes, which is also used to get all the gear for the rally to the top, can obviously be walked and is not so steep.
    Neither had I thought of walkers sharing the road space with shuttle buses. My bad.

  88. scottish_skier says:

    I bloody well hope so, after your performance in December last year!
    Good things come to those who wait…

  89. Dorothy Devine says:

    Is Norman taking the kindest route for those with creaky knees?
    Not creaky enough for the bus but definitely in need of oiling!

  90. Morag says:

    Dorothy, see above.  There is an actual road which has no steps (obviously!) and is not so steep.  The buses taking the mobility-impaired to the top will stop running before the marchers start to climb, so that slow pedestrians and people with wheelchairs and so on can have the road to themselves.

  91. fordie says:

    @Juteman  @Morag
    Sorry, popped out to book bus seat for Sat. Of course, we should all contribute to our local community/wider society. I’m not disputing that. Poll tax and council tax were ill thought out. Both though left a small but significant proportion of our society particularly disadvantaged.

  92. CameronB says:

    I think the Poll Tax was very effective in terms of result. See my post @ 8:20pm.

  93. call me dave says:

    Tony Kenny, the Radical Independence activist who spoke above for the Yes side, told National Collective about his experience at today’s BBC Radio 5 Live debate: I’d previously received two phone calls in vetting for the 5 Live debate audience, a different BBC researcher phoned me to ask on a scale of 1-10 how strong a Yes voter I was. “Was it based on Braveheart and Brigadoon?” he asked. I stopped him right there. I let him know that I found that insulting. I understood it was for a London-centric audience but we owed them more than to live up to mythical stereotypes.

  94. kininvie says:

    It’s curious that it should be so hard to devise a fair and adequate means of local taxation, yet almost all countries have problems with whatever regime they have in place.
    What difference would it make if education was taken into central govt, & paid for out of increased income tax? It’s always seemed to me to be inefficient that local authorities have most of the burden of administering schools, yet policy is set centrally.
    The other thing that needs doing is to give more power, money, and accountability to community councils. At the moment, they are just a talking shop. The English are well ahead of us in that respect. See:

  95. Dorothy Devine says:

    Thanks Morag!

  96. Albert Herring says:

    Arbroath, Skier
    Rain? Not according to the Norwegians.

  97. Jamie Arriere says:

    The ESRC report is obviously extremely dry and hard to read, which makes the Labour Party’s deliberate misrepresentation of its findings a cynical intellectually-bankrupt distortion and, if I was responsible for publishing it, I would be on the phone to the swines making their fucking ears bleed!
    These dissembling bastards should not be allowed to get away with it!!!

  98. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Albert Herring says:

    Arbroath, Skier

    Rain? Not according to the Norwegians

    Aye well just goes to prove if you want something doing right do it the INDEPENDENT way.  Best we keep this between ourselves methinks, don’t think Better Together will too happy seeing how an independent country gets on with its weather forecasting. 😆

  99. Bill C says:

    I don’t like the rain, the wife says that it makes my rust worse!  So here’s a wee prediction for Saturday, take your shades and your YES baseball caps you will need them. Three other predictions:
    1. The rally will be much bigger than last year;
    2. Next year’s rally will be bigger again;
    3. YES will win comfortably this time next  year.
    And William Hill are offering 4/1 on a YES vote, make money people. It’s win, win!

  100. creigs17707repeal says:

    Slightly O/T.
    There are a few empty looking BT stands that have been photographed around the country with some solitary, forlorn-looking person gazing wistfully at the buzzing throng beside the YES stands. But really – why should anyone expect anything different? I imagine that most people believe they already know what a NO vote means – the status quo, more of the same. They don’t need to ask any questions of the NO stand hence why they are generally largely quiet affairs.But we should not be fooled by that.
    The YES Scotland stand is a whole different proposition. It is offering a radical alternative vision of how Scotland could be different (for the better) if people vote YES. People, naturally, want to hear about that alternative vision and they also want as many hard facts as they can get that back up the alternative vision that is being offered.
    Of course it is great that the YES stands are apparently so much more busier than the NO stands but that is only to be expected and is not really an indicator of support or voter intention. It is an indicator only of people’s willingness to seek out the independence message from the YES stand (they already believe they know what NO means) and to learn the facts. Hopefully there is enough YES events in the next year to get enough people the key facts they really need to know about independence in order for them to make an informed decision.
    YES Scotland

  101. Morag says:

    Yeah, I think you’re right.  The observation has already been made by one or two other people.  Still, better than the other way round!

  102. Arbroath 1320 says:

    I agree with your three predictions Bill.
    To be honest what worries me about Saturday is the numbers game. I’ve heard that Calton hill can hold 15,000. After last year’s 10,000 plus number of attendees I am certain that this year’s march will be in excess of 20,000 at the very least! :D:
    For next year’s march can I suggest a number of starting points along Princes Street, march along Princes Street then up the bridges to the Meadows. I think the Meadows might just about be big enough for next year’s rally. 😆

  103. Scottish_Snowboarder_;) says:

    scottish_skier says:
    16 September, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Anyone going to the March and Rally on Saturday might think about taking a brolly or light waterproof.
    Touch and go. Depends on the final position of the mini high pressure.”

    Never mind that, when’s there going to be enough snow on Cairngorm to open this year?

  104. scottish_skier says:

    Never mind that, when’s there going to be enough snow on Cairngorm to open this year?
    As I’ve said before, if Scotland votes Yes, we’ll lose the milder influence of SE England’s weather. Some have argued this is a bad thing; for snow sports it can only be great.

  105. Brian Ritchie says:

    And William Hill are offering 4/1 on a YES vote, make money people. It’s win, win!
    Yup, already got money on it!

  106. Soda says:

    SLAB = Lying bastards….ok, got it.

  107. James Morton says:

    my gut instinct on the council tax increase is that Scottish labour fully intended to implement every single lunatic policy the con-dem government came up with. They were also intent on selling off the NHS and every other public service we have that is safe from WM atm. The council tax increase would be spent on the subsidies the private sector craves atm before it even considers taking on a public service contract, the only way to do this amidst deep cuts, would be council taxes.
    Its not a fully thought out opinion, but just a gut instinct based on Scottish labour speeches about universalism, BRT and the rest.

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