Bid to scrap Poll Tax debt

Fiona McLeod MSP
Fiona McLeod MSP

Moves to abolish outstanding Poll Tax debts cleared a major hurdle last week with the Scottish Parliament voting in favour of a new Bill at stage one.

Following a surge in voter registration during the referendum, it was feared that some councils would use the new data to pursue unpaid Poll Tax debts.

However, to prevent that from happening and acting as a barrier to democratic participation, the Scottish Government introduced the Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill.

Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod said: “This vote is hugely welcome and represents a major step towards righting the historic wrong that the Poll Tax represents.

“The referendum helped to involve people in politics who hadn’t voted in decades and that is something that should be celebrated – not something that should see people hounded for ancient debts as some councils indicated they wanted to do.

“In East Dunbartonshire we saw 91 per cent of the electorate vote – including many new voters in areas like

Hillhead and Lennoxtown, who were enthused by the independence debate – they should not be too scared to stay registered.

“The Poll Tax was a disastrous experiment that the Tories inflicted on Scotland and its toxic legacy should not be allowed to undermine democratic participation today.”

The SNP MSP added: “Many councils freely admit that the bulk of outstanding Poll Tax debt is uncollectable and several local authorities have already written off the outstanding debt in their area due to people dying, moving away or the age of the debt. This is why East Dunbartonshire Council will be receiving £15,000 to write off the remaining debt.

“The Director of Finance at COSLA assessed what finances were needed by the local authorities who were still collecting the very old debt, to write them off.

“Protecting people from being pursued for these ancient debts is the right thing to do and I am delighted at the progress towards this that has been made this week.”