Moray Council charges are expected to be frozen to help ease pressure on people dealing with rising energy prices and the aftermath of the pandemic.
The move would see no rise in the cost of using the local authority’s leisure facilities, swimming pools, harbours, registry services and libraries.
It would also mean the cost of music tuition and school dinners stay at current levels.
Members of the corporate committee were today (Tuesday October 12) asked to consider a default increase of 2% across the board, or whether some areas should stay the same while others could rise.
‘People are hard pressed at the moment’
Council leader and SNP councillor for Elgin South Graham Leadbitter said: “Given the situation the country is in at the moment in terms of recovering from Covid, I propose freezing charges at the present time.
“The Universal Credit reduction and wider global issues, including energy supply particularly gas pushing up prices for people and businesses as well, it would be appropriate to freeze charges at their current level.
“People are hard pressed at the moment and there’s no point in trying to take money from people who can’t afford it, that’s not sustainable.”
It is thought the move will amount to a loss of income for the council of around £25,000.
Rising energy bills putting pressure on finances
Sonya Warren, SNP councillor for Buckie, feels people and businesses are facing huge uncertainties with rising energy bills and other costs putting pressure on finances.
She said: “There is an increase in National Insurance and, as we move through Covid recovery, there are a huge set of changing circumstances.
“Freezing council charges will give a tiny bit of continuity.”
Conservative councillor for Keith and Cullen Donald Gatt understood there had been large increases in building materials and gas prices but wondered whether members could be “putting off the inevitable”.
Independent councillor for Forres George Alexander made the point that the freeze in charges did not include council tax or housing rent.
A final decision will be taken by the council early next year.