COUNCIL chiefs in Argyll and Bute have pledged to continue to fight for funding for local government after it was announced that council tax in Scotland will be frozen.

In his speech to the SNP conference on Tuesday, October 17, first minister Humza Yousaf announced that council tax rates would remain the same in Scotland in 2024/25.

The charge is a key source of funding for council services in Argyll and Bute and across Scotland, with a five per cent increase implemented in the council’s most recent budget, in February.

The announcement sparked an angry response from leaders at Scottish local government body Cosla, who said the commitment had been made without their knowledge.

Officers at Argyll and Bute Council will now await details of funding for local authorities from the Scottish Government, which are expected to be revealed near Christmas.

A council spokesperson said: “Council tax is key in paying for the council services communities use every day.

“When costs are rising and the council is facing a £12+ million gap in its budget, freezing council tax puts council services at greater risk. A five per cent increase, for example, would mean nearly £3m more for vital services.

“We do not yet have information about whether the Scottish Government will increase funding for councils to help protect council services from a council tax freeze.

"We will continue to work with other councils through CoSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) for fair funding for councils.”

Mr Yousaf told members of his party at the conference in Aberdeen: “Council tax bills in Scotland are already hundreds of pounds a year lower than they are in England.

“We’re committed to fundamentally reforming local taxation and we will re-energise our work to do that. We have consulted on what level the council tax should be next year.

“I can announce to the people of Scotland that, next year, your council tax will be frozen.”

The Scottish Government is expected to publish its budget for the 2024/25 financial year, which includes details of funding for councils, in December. It will be the first set by Shona Robison as finance secretary.

Argyll and Bute Council will then set its budget for the financial year in February 2024.

Cosla officials said they had not been consulted on the policy – which was the key announcement from Mr Yousaf’s first conference speech as leader – and that such a decision should be left to councils.

A Cosla spokesperson said on Wednesday: “The announcement of a council tax freeze was made completely without reference to local government, and there is no agreement to freeze council tax next year. The decision to freeze council tax is one which can only be made by councils.

“Our cross-party group leaders held an emergency meeting first thing this morning on the back of the announcement and there is real anger at the way this has been handled and what it puts at risk.

“On the back of this, our political group leaders also asked us to seek an urgent meeting with the First Minister.”

Mr Yousaf told the BBC on Wednesday that the Scottish Government would "make sure councils are funded for the council tax freeze".