MEMBERS of Scottish Borders Council have agreed to freeze council tax for the financial year 2024/25.

The local authority will not increase the levy for Borders residents after accepting £3.2 million of funding from the Scottish Government.

Prior to the Scottish Government’s October 2023 announcement of its intentions to freeze council tax from April 1, the council had planned to introduce a four per cent rise – providing £2.9 million in additional funding.  

However, the freeze and funding boost from the Scottish Government is equivalent to a five per cent increase on the tax nationally and gives the local authority £0.3 million more than it had budgeted for in February 2023.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, executive member for service delivery and transformation, said: “We’re between a rock and a hard place. We either need to accept this £3.2m from the government or lose it.

“It will help support the absolutely vital services that this council delivers to its constituents.”

Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine, the Conservative leader of the council, added: “This is not an easy decision and it was really good that we had a cross-party working group, and I want to thank members across the chamber for coming together on the whole budget. This decision today will help families and communities in the Scottish Borders.”

Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol, the leader of the SNP opposition group on the council, said: “I think this is the right decision right now. It’s an offer which reduces the impact on our citizens.”

Kelso councillor Euan Robson, for the Lib Dems, said: “I think it is right to accept the freeze but I think it’s a marginal decision. The council does need to raise more of its own income. A marginal decision but one which may not be able to be replicated in future years.”

Independent Tweeddale East councillor Robin Tatler echoed that sentiment, adding: “My only reservation in terms of council tax freezes is that they are a blunt instrument, they help some but there are a number of people who actually benefit from this who perhaps don’t need to benefit from it.”

The council will be setting its full budget on February 29.

While council tax will not increase from April 1, Scottish Water announced that it would be increasing its charges for water and waste water services by 8.8 per cent.

The local authority collects these charges on behalf of the utility firm as part of the overall bill households receive for their council tax.

With this increase from Scottish Water, for the financial year 2024/25 household bills collected by the council will stand at:

Band A – £904.07

Band B – £1,054.75

Band C – £1,205.43

Band D – £1,356.11

Band E – £1,781.78

Band F – £2,203.68

Band G – £2,655.72

Band H – £3,322.47