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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 22:38 GMT
No agreement in local tax talks
Council tax bill - generic
Council tax is the current way rates are levied

Talks between the SNP and the Scottish Liberal Democrats over plans to replace the council tax in Scotland have broken up without immediate agreement.

But the Finance Secretary John Swinney and his Lib Dem counterpart, Tavish Scott, agreed to hold further talks.

The government will set out its ideas on the issue in a consultation paper to be published on Tuesday afternoon.

It favours a 3p income tax rate for all councils, but the Lib Dems want the levy to be set locally.

In principle, both parties agree that change is necessary and both believe a local income tax is the favoured option.

The talks, which took place on Monday evening and lasted 45 minutes, were described as "constructive".

A four-month consultation period will begin once the consultation document is made public.

It is time the SNP came clean and provided answers about their tax plans instead of dodging key questions the public deserve answered
Andy Kerr
Scottish Labour Party

In a statement after the meeting, the government and the Scottish Lib Dems said: "Hopefully we can reach an agreement, and then work to translate the 88% support for local income tax among the people of Scotland into a parliamentary majority for fair local tax based on ability to pay."

However, the Scottish Labour Party's public services spokesman, Andy Kerr, accused the SNP of "misleading" pensioners, families and students by "claiming everyone will be a winner" under a local income tax system.

He added: "Not only will people have to pay more because of the new tax, but they will also face further cuts in local services already feeling the strain because of the council tax freeze.

Listen to leader

"It is time the SNP came clean and provided answers about their tax plans instead of dodging key questions the public deserve answered."

Labour has also challenged the SNP to answer ten questions on the local income tax, including how many households with two earners will have to pay more.

The Tories have already branded the proposals for a local income tax as a "Scottish national income tax".

The party's finance spokesman Derek Brownlee said the Lib Dems should listen to their UK leader Nick Clegg.

Mr Brownlee said that on a visit to Scotland, Mr Clegg had argued: "If you put power in the hands of national government, it becomes a national tax not a local tax."

The Scottish Green Party supports a land value tax.

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