Dumfries & Galloway SNP Council Group Leader Brian Collins has welcomed a new report which highlights the impact the introduction of the Living Wage has had on health inequalities – and finds that the Council Tax freeze may also be helping to improve health.
The study by researchers at the Scottish Public Health Observatory (PHO) at NHS Health Scotland found that certain regulatory and tax policies could help tackle health inequalities. Dr Gerry McCartney, head of the PHO, said that in some cases “they will save lives”.
Cllr. Collins said:
“People might not immediately link decisions over tax to public health, but his report is an important study of the impact of government spending decisions on health inequalities and provides further evidence that when it comes to the Council Tax freeze the Labour Party not only don’t get the bigger picture; they are on the wrong side of the argument entirely.
“The report highlights the negative impact that rising Council Tax can have on health. Under the SNP, council tax has been frozen since 2007 – which will not only save families an average of £1,200 by the end of the current Parliamentary term in 2016 – but according to this report will also have a positive impact on health.
“The study examined the likely impact of a 10% increase in Council Tax – a far cry from the 25% the local Labour Party now seems to be suggesting – and found that even a 10% increase had a negative effect on health and health inequalities. Given how regressive Council Tax is, since it bears no relation to a household’s ability to pay, this is hardly surprising.
“We already know there is a direct link between income and health & well-being. Given, for example, that more than 40% of households in Dumfries & Galloway are in fuel poverty it is easy to see how yet another drain on household incomes could have a negative effect.
“The Labour Party’s new obsession with the Council Tax freeze hasn’t been thought through – we knew that already. This new study into the effects of future Council Tax increases on health and inequality places Labour firmly on the wrong side of the argument yet again.
“In the face of Westminster cuts that hit the poorest hardest, this report shows that policies being taken forward by the SNP are helping tackle health inequalities. It’s not too late for the Labour Party to start supporting them.”