COUNCILLORS have today (Thursday) agreed to freeze council tax for the next 12 months.

The Fife Council administration had recommended the move which would see them take advantage of Scottish Government promises to pay the difference.

In January, finance secretary Kate Forbes announced a £90 million fund that will give councils the equivalent of the income from a three per cent rise in council tax if they choose to freeze rates for 2021/22.

It means the council can enjoy the benefits of an increase without passing the costs on to householders who may have experienced financial hardship during the pandemic.

Council co-leader David Ross said it was clear there was a "huge pressure" on families across Fife because of Covid.

"It seems right that in this year, we should try and mitigate some of these pressures," he said. "It is also case that the Scottish Government has now announced it will give additional funding to councils to allow them to freeze council taxes.

"If we didn't agree to freeze it, then we would not get that funding."

Fellow Co-leader David Alexander also welcomed the decision to freeze payment rates given the financial impact of the pandemic.

"We will continue to help people who come forward if they have an inability to pay," he added. "It is better to contact the council sooner rather than later to allow officers the opportunity to offer advice and support.

"Freezing the council tax will help prevent that situation from getting worse."

Concerns were raised at the meeting that the Scottish Government may not “base-line” the money as part of future financial settlements with local councils, with Cllr Ross raising concerns that a failure to do this would mean doubling future rises or cuts to services.

Councillors agreed to a motion put forward by Cllr Tim Brett, leader of the Fife Liberal Democrat group, that the administration would write to the Scottish Government asking them to clarify that this would happen.

"We would all hope this funding would continue next year but as both of them (council co-leaders) have said, there will be a significant problem for all councils if that does not happen," said Councillor Brett.

The motion was backed by Dunfermline South councillor James Calder.

He said: "We know many people are in financial difficulties and not having to pay that extra amount would be a welcome respite for them. The big question is is this funding provided by the Scottish Government going to be base-lined for future years and is it important for Fifers to know this."