BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 14:24 GMT
UK to retain council tax benefit
Council tax bill - generic
The Scottish Government wants to scrap council tax
The Scottish Government's plans to scrap council tax will mean the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds in benefits, UK ministers have said.

The SNP administration's plans had banked on retaining the 400m a year rebate from Westminster.

And Holyrood ministers' aim for a local income tax could not be brought in until 2011, BBC Scotland has learned.

SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney said it was clear the council tax benefits belonged to Scotland.

UK Scottish Secretary Des Browne questioned why the Scottish Government would need to retain the cash if they had found a "fairer" alternative to council tax.

'Scotland's money'

He told BBC Scotland's Politics Show: "If you have a benefit that is paid to an individual to balance the effects of their inability to be able to pay tax and that tax is taken away, then the benefit has to go as well."

A spokesman for Mr Swinney said: "The council tax benefit is Scotland's money, plain and simple.

"It is part and parcel of the system of locally raised tax to help fund local government services, and of course, the money should be retained in Scotland."

Meanwhile, it emerged that the earliest that local income tax could replace council tax would be just before the next Holyrood election, according to a senior government source.

The Scottish Government - which provided funding for a council tax freeze across the country - is soon to publish its consultation on the local income tax.

The Liberal Democrats support the change, but disagree with the SNP over some of the detail of the policy.

And there is still not enough support in the Scottish Parliament to push it through.

SEE ALSO
Stephen makes partner plea to SNP
01 Mar 08 |  Scotland
SNP moves to abolish council tax
11 Nov 07 |  Scotland
Government to scrap council tax
30 May 07 |  Scotland

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific