Local Government Finance Resources and Council Tax Reform: Joint Working Group minutes – December 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on the 8 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth (Chair)
  • Patrick Harvie, Harvey Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights (Chair)
  • Joe Fitzpatrick, Minister for Social Security and Local Government 
  • Councillor Shona Morrison, COSLA President
  • Councillor Steven Heddle, COSLA Vice-President
  • Councillor Katie Hagmann, COSLA Resources Spokesperson
  • Robert Emmott, Local Authority Director of Finance Group
  • Les Robertson, IRRV Representative
  • James Fowlie, COSLA
  • Scottish Government Officials

Items and actions

Minute of the meeting

Mr Arthur thanked all members for joining the first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) and outlined the work and purpose of the group with reference to the Terms of Reference provided in advance of the meeting.

Mr Arthur outlined the agenda for the first meeting, and then invited members to discuss the Terms of Reference.

The group discussed whether the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) might also co-chair the  JWG  and how meeting preparation could have a focus on co-production. Members agreed to pick this up off-line and to revise the Terms of Reference accordingly.

Mr Harvie introduced the next agenda item regarding a consultation on any changes to the Council Tax treatment of second and empty homes:

  • secondary legislation premium on Second Homes (to 100%) and Primary legislation for premium on Second and long-term Empty Homes (to increase by more than 100 per cent)
  • self-catering non-domestic rates eligibility (70 days of actual letting threshold to qualify for self-catering and typically receive the Small Business Bonus Scheme. 

All members indicated provisional support for the broad proposal for consultation, although COSLA suggested that full endorsement would need to be agreed by Leaders.

Mr Arthur then invited members to discuss any other potential Council Tax changes that can be made by secondary legislation, with a focus on responding to the current cost crisis, that could feature in the consultation.

Members discussed potential changes for consideration for consultation, but COSLA indicated that they would like to explore these further through the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) and Local Authority Director’s Group before formally presenting ideas to the group. Amongst those discussed for potential consideration, included the Council Tax property bands and support and exemptions.

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