The Scottish Government, as widely anticipated, struck a deal with the Green Party and agreed their budget based on a couple of matters which directly affect Edinburgh. These include the provision of legislation for tourist tax and also for a workplace parking levy.
Both of these measures have been strongly supported by the SNP-Labour coalition administration and tonight the council leadership welcomed the news from Holyrood.
Council Leader, Adam McVey, said: “I welcome today’s announcement by the Finance Minister, which paves the way for a TVL scheme in Edinburgh and pays testament to the strength of the case we have developed.
“After many months of robust research and feedback, the time has come for us to submitting our proposals to Ministers and MSPs for their consideration and, if we are successfully granted the necessary powers, to steering Edinburgh towards becoming the first Local Authority in the UK to introduce such a scheme.
“We have been clear throughout that an Edinburgh TV: would need to reflect the interests of everyone in the city, including our citizens and businesses and the hospitality industry. Our proposals offer a fair scheme which will be simple to implement, refined following overwhelming support and feedback. We will ensure this engagement continues as we develop the proposals further.”
Depute Council Leader, Cammy Day, added: “Our city’s population is increasing and tourism continues to grow, yet our budget faces ever-increasing pressures. I think it’s entirely fair to expect tourists to contribute to the city maintenance, to cultural and tourist investments so that it remains globally attractive.
“Providing Edinburgh with the means to raise additional finance – money which can be reinvested into supporting and developing our visitor destination appeal – is in all of our interests. £2 a night is a small price to pay to visit a Capital city and directly contribute towards its ongoing success.”
The Scottish Budget includes commitments to:
- Consult on principles of a locally-determined transient visitor levy and introduce legislation thereafter
- Support an agreed Green Party amendment to the Transport (Scotland) Bill that would enable local authorities who wish to use such a power to introduce a workplace parking levy with Scottish Government support being contingent on the exclusion of hospitals and NHS properties
- Devolve Non-Domestic Rates Empty Property Relief to local authorities in time for the next revaluation
- Convene cross-party talks on replacing the current council tax, with a view to publishing legislation – should agreement be reached – by the end of this parliament, with legislation taken forward in the following parliament
- Bring forward a three-year funding settlement for local government from 2020-21 budget onwards
- Develop a rules based framework for local government funding in partnership with COSLA that would be introduced for the next parliament
- Increase core resource local government settlement by £90 million
- Allow local authorities the flexibility to increase the council tax by 3% in real terms, which equates to 4.79% next year, while keeping increases below the maximum permitted in England
- Continue to provide an earmarked £160 million for health and social care investment in local authorities to support social care and mental health measures – including those delivered by integrated joint boards – while allowing councils the flexibility to offset their own adult social care contributions in 2019-20 by 2.2% compared to 2018-19, or up to £50 million across all authorities to help them manage their own budgets.
Scottish Labour MSP for the Lothian region Kezia Dugdale said:
“Today’s announcement that the SNP Government will now consult on the introduction of a tourist tax is due in part to calls from Edinburgh City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and many others asking to allow local government to introduce a levy for the benefit local residents.
“Asking visitors to Edinburgh to contribute towards the cities upkeep is common practice across Europe with tourist taxes established in Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin already to name a few. A modest levy, that could be ring-fenced to support the upkeep and invest in our tourist infrastructure would bring considerable benefits to the city.
“It’s estimated the introduction of the tourist tax could raise up to £14.6m every year for Edinburgh. However, the money the tourist tax can raise is just a small fraction of the cuts that Edinburgh Council is having to make.
“This is a step in the right direction but local government still needs a fair funding settlement to protect our vital services and stop long term damage being done to the cities most deprived communities.”
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has reached an agreement with the Scottish Green Party to support the Scottish Budget at all parliamentary stages.
In letters exchanged today, Mr Mackay outlined a package of reforms to local government.
The proposals are dependent on securing the support of the Scottish Greens on Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the Budget Bill, as well as support for the Local Government Finance Order, and ensuring that the Scottish Rate Resolution and Non-Domestic Rates orders pass successfully through parliament.