Nicola Sturgeon warned Scotland faces financial ruin – council leaders plea for new powers
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Edinburgh City Council said the expected recovery could not be coordinated effectively through national schemes. The authority stressed national powers to set taxes and raise revenues would have to be administered closer to affected communities.
The council, which was writing in response to the Scottish Government’s call for views on its economic response to coronavirus, said more freedom was needed when it comes to business rates and land value uplift taxes.
It added: “That means more powers for local government and more flexibility to shape and apply national economic provisions and investment plans.”
These powers are currently held by Holyrood but city bosses want them to be devolved locally.
The council warns the coronavirus outbreak and the associated economic downturn after the pandemic could create a more unequal society.
The council said this should be met with a “re-positioning of powers and decision making that is as close to communities as possible”.
The calls echo Labour’s approach of taking a more radical federalist approach to Scottish government power which would involve taking powers from Holyrood and giving them to local communities in Scotland.
Scottish Labour and Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said: “The mandate for Keir Starmer if he becomes PM in 2024, would be to deliver on the manifesto commitment of the radical federalism he wants to try and achieve.”
Cllr Adam McVey, leader of the council, said: “It’s important to recognise the significant challenges we face and also that business as usual isn’t an option.
“Our capital is in many ways Scotland’s gateway to the rest of the world and a driving force for the country’s economy so it’s crucial for our city’s interests to shape the national plans.”
The council also used the chance to push the Scottish Government to follow up on promises to bring in a tourist tax that will add to the incomes of local authorities.
Scottish politicians have debated the introduction of the Transient Visitor Levy (TVL), which would potentially allow the councils to have access to the funding stream from summer 2021.
Cllr McVey, who spent three drafting a business case for the tax, added: “Had we had the tourist tax in place already before this pandemic kicked off we would have had a funding stream that already existed to fund the recovery of the hospitality sector.
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“This is not an anti-tourism thing, this is about sustainable tourism.”
The city has been forced to cancel many summer festivals due to the coronavirus outbreak which bring in 4.4 million people generating £1 billion for the local economy, the Centre for Economic and Business Research said.
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