PLANS to reform Scotland's council tax bands to make people in larger properties pay more have been branded a "scandal" by an opposition MSP.

Labour's Neil Bibby says more than 14,000 households in North Ayrshire would be hit with significant increases in their council tax bills if the SNP's proposals become law.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on plans to hike council tax for properties in bands E to H – which would hit 21 per cent of households in North Ayrshire.

People in the area could face increases of up to £800.48 if the plans become reality.

Mr Bibby, who represents the West Scotland region, said: “Years of brutal cuts by the SNP has local services in North Ayrshire at breaking point, and now the government wants to plug the gaps with eye-watering council tax hikes of over £800.

“It is a scandal that ordinary Scots are once again being asked to pay more while getting less in return.

“This damaging council tax bombshell will hit 14,387 households in North Ayrshire during the worst cost of living crisis in decades, piling pressure on people already facing impossible financial decisions.

"Scots struggling with rising housing costs should be getting support from their government – but instead they are being asked to foot the bill for the SNP’s failure.

“Labour will stand up for people struggling with soaring living costs and fight for a fair deal for North Ayrshire.”

Public finance minister Tom Arthur says the proposals are aimed at making council tax rates fairer - and that, if enacted, they would still leave council tax levels in Scotland at a lower rate than other parts of the UK.

Mr Arthur said: “We have listened to calls for the council tax system to be made fairer, as presently more of the burden falls on those in the lower bands when considered as a proportion of the value of their property.

“The changes would only affect around a quarter of properties and even after they are taken into account, average council tax in Scotland would still be less than anywhere else in the UK.

“We know that many people are struggling with their finances and our Council Tax Reduction scheme is there to ensure nobody has to pay a Council Tax bill they cannot be expected to afford, regardless of what band they are in.

“I would encourage anyone who has views on these proposals to complete our consultation before it closes on 20 September 2023, to help us determine if they should be taken forward.”

The move has also been backed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the umbrella body representing Scotland's 32 councils.

Their public resources spokesperson, Councillor Katie Hagmann, said: “For many years there have been calls to make the council tax system fairer.

"We are pleased to be working jointly with the Scottish Government to explore ways that we can achieve this. A fairer and more progressive council tax is what the proposals in this consultation aim to do.

“If you have a view on council tax, this joint consultation with Scottish Government gives you the chance to share your views and gives us a chance to make council tax fairer.” 

The consultation was launched last week and will run until September 20.

Any changes would come into effect at the start of the 2024-25 financial year.