Minister plans further consultation on water rates discount cut

The Scottish Government has insisted it has no plans to scrap the discount single people receive on council tax – but it refused to rule out changes to a similar discount scheme for water charges.

Public finance minister Kate Forbes said there would be “further research” and consultation before a decision is made on the matter.

Those who live alone can get 25% off both their council tax and water charges under the current system.

But a Scottish Government consultation last year raised the prospect of the discount for water charges being cut to 10%.

Asked if ministers plan to change reduced council tax payments for those living alone, Ms Forbes was clear: “The Scottish Government has no plans to review the single person discount for council tax.”

But she said the discount for water charges is “something quite different”.

Public finance minister Kate Forbes (Jane Barlow/PA)

Labour’s Jackie Baillie called on the Government to “rule out any cuts to the single person’s water discount”.

She said: “Given these two benefits operate in the same way, the legitimate concern is that the Scottish Government proposal to remove water discounts is the thin end of the wedge, and council tax discounts for single people are next.”

Ms Forbes said: “The Scottish Government has no plans to review the single person discount for council tax.

“However in relation to water tax, which is something quite different, we have consulted on amending the present single person discount for water charges, that consultation closed on September 28, 2018.

“A summary of responses were published on December 19, 2018 and having listened to feedback from customers we intend to undertake further research, further consultation and further engagement before making any decisions on whether to amend the existing discount.”

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