COUNCIL tax charges for domestic properties will remain the same as last year after Borders councillors agreed to freeze rates for 2021/22.

The decision to freeze the tax was taken at a full meeting of Scottish Borders Council today (February 25).

In January, Scottish finance minister Kate Forbes wrote to all local authorities in Scotland regarding an additional £90 million of funding to compensate councils which choose to freeze council tax at the rates seen in 2020/21.

According to a council report, SBC is in line to receive £1.955 million from the national allocation, brought in to recognise “the unique pressures created by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Mark Rowley, SBC’s executive member for economic regeneration and finance, said: “At such a difficult financial time for households across the area it is right to freeze council tax which will provide some stability for residents’ budgets.

“Due to the compensation from the Scottish Government it will not adversely affect the money available for the council to deliver its services during this financial year 2021/22.”

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The Mid Berwickshire councillor added: “However, it is crucial to emphasise that if this additional £1.95m is not provided on a recurring basis as baseline funding to the council, by the Scottish Government, then funding to support our essential services would be reduced in future years and a three per cent increase in council tax would have to be put in place for 2022/23 to make up that shortfall, before any additional funding could be raised to invest in services.”

The council report regarding the freeze states that the compensation offered to SBC “broadly equates to an increase in council tax of around 3 per cent”, with a “small shortfall” of £0.026 million noted.

Council tax in Scotland is based on eight bands (A-H). Properties in the Borders are placed into bands based on their valuation.

With the current rates set to stay for the forthcoming year, Band D households will pay SBC £1,253.91 in council tax in 2021/22.

The council report states that, although council tax will not go up next year, fees for water supply and waste water collection will “rise in line with Scottish Water increases”.