Council tax in Scotland will be frozen next year, according to Humza Yousaf, who has shelved proposals to raise bills that would have affected more than 700,000 homes.
The initiative, according to the First Minister, will bring much-needed financial relief to people across the country who are already suffering increased bills as a result of the cost of living problem.
However, the plan sparked a schism within the Scottish Government, with the SNP’s coalition partners, the Greens, expressing worry that public services might suffer as a result.
In his closing speech to the SNP conference in Aberdeen, Mr Yousaf said he had decided to ditch plans to raisee council tax for people living in larger properties.
A consultation launched over the summer said properties in bands E, F, G and H would be subject to a sliding scale of tax rises of between 7.5 and 22.5 per cent.
This would have meant that the average annual council tax bill would increase by £139 for a band E property, £288 for a band F, £485 for a band G and £781 for a band H.
Mr Yousaf said he had taken the decision to scrap the plan in response to the rising cost of living, telling the conference that people are being “filled with dread” about their bills.
“We can’t stop all the bills rising – but where we can act, we should,” he said, adding: “I can announce to the people of Scotland that, next year, your council tax will be frozen.”
The announcement was greeted with huge cheers in the conference hall, but while Mr Yousaf was still speaking, the Scottish Greens released a statement criticising the policy.
Meanwhile, Cosla, which represents council leaders across Scotland, also reacted angrily to the announcement having not been notified in advance.
“This has longer-term implications for all councils right across the country, at a time when we know there are acute financial pressures, and where we are jointly looking at all local revenue raising options,” a spokesman said.
“We will need to consider the implications for Cosla and local government with our members when we get more of the detail.”