This week the Scottish Government brought forward their Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill, a piece of legislation designed to write off all outstanding Poll tax debt. In practice the vast majority of this debt has already ether been effectively been written off or is uncollectable due to the law of negative prescription and the length of time that it has gone un-pursued. However Labour welcomed the Bill as a chance to draw a line under the hated Poll tax and I made clear to the government that we would be supporting the legislation.
For me however it was important to both recognise and thank all of those who did pay the hated Poll tax as these individuals kept our most vital public services running at an extremely difficult time financially for local Government. Many also struggled to pay the unfair and regressive tax and continue to struggle to pay the council tax which has replaced it. They did so despite its unfairness and I felt it was right to highlight the contribution that those individuals made.
Furthermore I made clear to the Scottish Government that this discussion was a good opportunity to again highlight the continued failure of governments in Scotland to properly finance local councils. A council tax freeze which is now in its 7th year, the finance for which has again failed to make its way in to the hands of our local councils, is being used as a sticking plaster solution to cover a council tax which simply isn’t working. We must now learn lessons from the mistakes and hardships of the past and move forward with a resolute determination to find a better way of funding our most vital local public services.
You can watch my full contribution to the debate below: