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LEADERS QUASH SCOTTISH TAX FEARS

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Scotland's 13 Labour council leaders ruled out above-inflation council tax increases for the next four years as the...
Scotland's 13 Labour council leaders ruled out above-inflation council tax increases for the next four years as the issue became a major battleground in the country's elections.

Next month will see voting for the Scottish parliament and for all 32 councils.

Opinion polls have shown Labour lagging behind the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is committed to scrapping council tax and replacing it with its own scheme involving a local income tax.

An SNP spokesman said the tax would be set at 3% and would be mandatory on all councils, in effect capping their budgets.

He said the party wanted voters to be clear about the tax, but could consider allowing councils to charge less, although not more.

Party leader Alex Salmond has said council tax abolition would be centre stage in the SNP campaign.

Chancellor Gordon Brown said the SNP was 'at complete sixes and sevens on the monetary framework it would adopt', and Labour claimed a 5% tax rate would be needed to replace council tax.

The leaders made the pledge to limit tax increases as the party launched its manifesto this week.

Its local government section stressed support for investment in education, a cleaner environment and action against anti-social behaviour.

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