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RECORD OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

In early 2003, following consultation among several people who had written to The Herald newspaper criticizing Council Tax, it was decided to start a campaign to press for the replacement of Council Tax by a fair tax more closely related to ability to pay. Originally called AACT (Action Against Council Tax), the campaign shortly affiliated to the UK-wide Isitfair campaign under the name of SAACT (Scottish Action Against Council Tax).

June 2003 Following the 2003 Scottish Parliamentary Election, contact was made with all political party leaders and others within the Scottish Parliament to ascertain their policies on local taxation. It was established that 61 MSPs (out of 129) were members of parties which had policies opposed to Council Tax.
Oct. 2003 A Scottish Petition and a standard letter to The First Minister were drafted. Also drafted were the contents of the Scottish section of the Isitfair website.
Nov. 2003 Inaugural Meeting held in Perth.
Article on 'SAACT.isitfair' published in the 'Hamilton Advertiser', with an extremely supportive letter published the following week.
Dec. 2003 Two SAACT supporters interviewed on Lanarkshire TV. Members Organised to flood 'The Herald' with letters to the editor- which led to a meeting with the local government correspondent of 'The Herald'.
SAACT supporter Alastair Murdoch, was invited to appear (live) on BBC Radio Scotland's 'The Lesley Riddoch Show'.
Jan. 2004 Excellent coverage of SAACT Campaign published (on six pages) of 'The Herald'.
SAACT (recorded) interview coverage on BBC2 TV ('Newsnight')
Feb. 2004 SAACT (recorded) interview on STV's 'Scotland Today'.
Interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's 'Sunday Live'.
Interviewed for STV's 'Politics Now'.
Participated in BBC Radio Scotland's 'The Lesley Riddoch Show'.
SAACT members petitioned for a full day - obtaining 500 signatures.
SGM held in Perth - to plan the forthcoming March/Rally.
March 2004 Meeting with the Royal British Legion Scotland - to obtain endorsement of SAACT Petition to The Scottish Parliament.
SAACT supporters joined the SSP Anti-Council Tax March/Rally in Glasgow.
May 2004 Meeting with the Scottish Pensioners' Association - in Edinburgh.
SAACT.isitfair Rally/March in Edinburgh.
Oct. 2004 Submitted response to the consultation paper on the "Abolition of Council Tax (Scotland) Bill" - proposed by the SSP.
Requested all SAACT supporters to write to: their MP/MSP and the European Parliament (to support Tony Constable's initiative).
Nov. 2004 Petition (with 2,300 signatures) lodged at The Scottish Parliament - and later, three members presented the petition to the Public Petitions Committee.
March 2005 Submitted response to the consultation paper from the Local Government Finance Review Committee. (Burt Committee)
Apr. 2005 Supported the National Pensioners Convention (Scotland) Rally in Edinburgh.
Feb. 2006 Supported the SSP Anti-Council Tax March/Rally in Edinburgh.
May 2006 A full meeting open to all SAACT supporters decided to establish a SAACT General Purposes Committee to conduct day-to-day business. (There are currently about 150 people on SAACT's mailing lists, but meetings open to all members have never been attended by more than 16 people, no doubt due to geographical distribution and other commitments. Much business can be conducted by post and e-mail.)
Sept 2006 First SAACT Newsletter issued. Our intention is to issue Newsletters at approximately monthly intervals. Copies are distributed to those on our mailing list, the 129 MSPs, and others on an ad hoc basis.
Nov. 2006 Publication of the Burt Report (Local Government Finance Review Committee, chaired by Sir Peter Burt). Our appraisal of the Burt Committee Report is given in a special edition of the SAACT Newsletter (see Newsletter Archives section).
March 2007 SAACT Website established (separate from our sections on the Isitfair Website).
Publication of Lyons Inquiry Report into Local Government (chaired by Sir Michael Lyons). This report does not directly apply to Scotland, but will be of interest to those involved in the campaign against Council Tax.
May 2007 Scottish Parliamentary elections resulted in a Scottish National Party minority government and a collective majority of seats for the anti-Council Tax parties.
BBC1 TV Programme "Reporting Scotland" included a 10-minute section on Council Tax. SAACT supporters Jim and Regina Feeney were interviewed as representatives of a pensioner couple who suffered adversely from Council Tax. A younger working couple were also interviewed. An edited version of this programme was featured on BBC Radio Scotland.
Feb 2008 The SNP government reached a "Concordat" with Scottish Councils, under which Council Tax rates would be frozen in return for an increased £70 million of central government funding for Councils. This freeze was renewed in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
March 2008 Public Consultation on the abolition of council tax in Scotland launched, entitled "A Fairer Local Tax for Scotland". Consultation document published. SAACT submitted its response on 18th June (see "Response to Consultation" section of this Website)
Nov 2008 Presumably as a result of SAACT's submission to the Consultation, SAACT representatives were invited to meet some senior SNP MSPs, and Andy Todd and Archie White went to the Scottish Parliament on 19th November for discussions with Joe FitzPatrick (Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the Cabinet Secretary for Sustainable and Financial Growth), Shona Robison and Andrew Welsh. The three MSPs seemed genuinely interested in SAACT's views. On 24th November, the SNP Government published an Analysis of Responses to the Consultation document, and SAACT's response had clearly been taken into account - there were 8 verbatim quotations (though they were not specifically attributed to SAACT).
Nov 2008 On 14th November, at the invitation of a Modern Studies teacher at George Watsonr's College in Edinburgh, Alastair Murdoch gave a talk to a group of fourth-year pupils about SAACT's activities as a pressure group. The pupils had already studied Council Tax in some detail, and were well aware of the SAACT website. The event seemed very worthwhile. The pupils showed intelligent interest, and every pupil had prepared a question for discussion in advance.
Dec 2008 On 5th December, following the meeting with the SNP MSPs on 19th November, Alastair Murdoch, Andy Todd and Archie White had further discussions with Sandra White, List SNP MSP for Glasgow. The discussion focussed on free payroll systems to help employers implement a LIT system, and on the desirability or otherwise of a further petition to the Scottish Parliament.
Feb 2009 The SNP Government concluded that it would not be able to get a Bill for a Local Income Tax passed in the present Scottish Parliament, in view of the Parliamentary arithmetic, the tight budgetary settlement from Westminster, and Westminster obstruction (such as the refusal to make over the equivalent of Council Tax Benefit payments to the Scottish Parliament).
Sept 2009 SAACT wrote to all Scottish Political Party leaders inviting them to nominate a representative to come to a joint meeting of party representatives and SAACT members to see whether it was possible to find a way forward on the reform of local government funding. Our hope was to bring party representatives together in a non-confrontational setting. No party showed interest in having a joint meeting, though most replies indicated the most appropriate MSP to contact about local government funding matters. However, Michael McMahon, the Scottish Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, asked for an individual meeting with SAACT members, and Andy Todd and Archie White had a two-hour meeting with him on 15th January 2010. It seemed clear that the Scottish Labour Party wished to stick with some form of property based tax, though the need to find ways of making it fairer than Council Tax seemed to be recognised. Mr McMahon said that the Party Leader, Iain Gray, had given him a year to come up with something. Mr McMahon did not regard a Local Income Tax as practicable for Scotland alone, though he conceded that it might be workable on a UK-wide basis.
Dec 2009 On 4th December, Andy Todd had a meeting with Linda Fabiani, SNP MSP, who said that she was not aware of any reduction in the SNP's commitment in trying to introduce a Local Income Tax.
Oct 2010 It was reported that the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, had indicated willingness to pass the amount of Council Tax Benefit payments in Scotland (currently about £400 million) to the Scottish Parliament to use at its discretion. This contrasts with the previous Westminster Government's refusal to transfer these funds, and should remove one of the alleged difficulties in introducing a Local Income Tax at an acceptable rate.
Feb 2011 Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, said that a £200 reduction in Council Tax for pensioners would be a major part of her party's policy on Council Tax in the forthcoming Scottish election.

Throughout this period, SAACT supporters have lobbied MSPs, MPs and Councillors, and have written to local and national newspapers.







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