Commission on Local Tax Reform

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The Commission on Local Tax Reform was a cross-party group set up by the Scottish Government in 2015, tasked with examining alternatives to the Council Tax. The commission was co-chaired by Marco Biagi MSP, Local Government Minister and David O’Neill, president of COSLA.[1] It had a remit to look at systems around funding services delivered by local government and also the impact on those who pay tax. The final report Just Change: A New Approach to Local Taxation was published on 14 December 2015.


In November 2014, the Scottish Government announced its intention to set up an independent commission.[2] Proposals for a fairer system of local government finance had been in the SNP’s 2011 manifesto.[3] The commission was announced as part of the first legislative programme introduced by Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s First Minister. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) welcomed the plans.[4]

The Commission was set up as a cross-party group, although the Conservative party decided not to take part.[5] Each political party was invited to nominate their own representatives, with the selection then being jointly agreed upon by Cosla and the Scottish Government.[6] The membership of the Commission and the proposed timetable for their work was confirmed on 20 February 2015.[7]


The Commission was to consider:[8]

  • how suggestions might impact on individuals and households
  • how any changes might affect inequalities in income and wealth
  • wider impacts of tax change
  • what administrative and collection arrangements might apply
  • what transition timetables might be possible
  • any impacts on local democracy
  • alternatives for raising revenue at both local authority and national levels

It was not considering issues relating to national non-domestic rates, commonly known as business rates.[9]


The first meeting of the committee was held on 23 February 2015. Submissions of evidence were accepted by the committee until 22 June 2015.[10] The committee produced their final report on 14 December 2015. There were 4,492 respondents to an online survey, the results of which were released ahead of the final report.[11]

Commission membership[edit]

There are 13 people appointed to the Commission:[7]


  1. ^ Johnstone, Richard (20 February 2015). "Cosla and CIPFA on Scots council tax commission". Public Finance. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  2. ^ McIvor, Jamie (26 November 2014). "How could the SNP replace council tax?". BBC News. BBC.
  3. ^ Gardham, Magnus (27 November 2014). "Council tax reform is a smart move". The Herald. Newsquest. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  4. ^ Brooks, Libby (26 November 2014). "Nicola Sturgeon unveils first legislative programme as Scotland's first minister". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  5. ^ Gordon, Tom (15 February 2015). "Tories boycott cross-party Scottish effort to replace Council Tax". Sunday Herald. Newsquest. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  6. ^ Brooks, Cameron (25 February 2015). "Row over tax group membership". Press and Journal. D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.
  7. ^ a b "Commission on Local Tax Reform" (Press release). Scottish Government. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Our Remit". Commission on Local Tax Reform. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  9. ^ Hannan, Martin (23 February 2015). "Concerns raised that Local Tax Reform commission will not examine business rates". The National. Newsquest. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  10. ^ McIvor, Jamie (3 May 2015). "Commission on council tax alternatives calls for evidence". BBC News. BBC.
  11. ^ Davidson, Jenni (23 November 2015). "Survey shows clear support for council tax reform". Holyrood. Retrieved 14 December 2015.

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