Council tax will be frozen across Scotland next year, Humza Yousaf has announced.

In his first party leader speech to the SNP conference, the First Minister said the government has looked at the issue and made a decision.

There has been a proposal to increase the tax for the highest bands which would've put between 7% and 22.5% a year on bands between E to H.

It would have taken an average band E across Scotland to £2001, F to £2590, G to £3259 and H to £4251.

It would’ve meant Band E paying around £2000 a year and Band H £4251.

But Yousaf’s announcement means bills will be frozen, instead.

Yousaf made the announcement, which he said would help people on above average salaries who he said are coming to him for help at his surgeries in Pollok.

He said: “Nurses, police officers, teachers – these workers are the backbone of Scotland’s public services.
“And people like them are being hit by this crisis too.
“We know that people are filled with dread when the bills are going up and up.
“We can’t stop all the bills rising – but where we can act, we should.”

He added: “I’ve considered carefully what steps we can take to help.
“Council tax bills in Scotland are already hundreds of pounds a year lower than they are in England.
“We’re committed to fundamentally reforming local taxation and we will re-energise our work to do that.
“We have consulted on what level the council tax should be next year.

 “I can announce to the people of Scotland that, next year, your council tax will be frozen.
“That’s the SNP delivering for people when they need it the most.”

But within minutes of Mr Yousaf’s announcement, concerns were raised about funding for local authorities, which have been struggling to provide services in recent years, including by local authority body Cosla, which said it had not been told of the announcement before it was made.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday, Dave Moxham, the deputy general secretary of the STUC, said: “What the First Minister didn’t say is that we pay on average about £500 less per person up north than they do down south.

“This is something the Scottish Government has developed over a decade, and the effect of that has been an incredible squeeze on local government services, and that has to stop.

“This announcement doesn’t help, but it’s electioneering at its worst.”

Mr Moxham also said the STUC, which had representatives at the conference, had no idea the announcement was going to be made.

“It was something of a surprise to find that £100 million has just been discovered in the cupboard that wasn’t there a few days ago,” he said.

“I’m afraid to be slightly cynical and say it’s party conference season and that’s really what’s brought it about.

“But it really is a bad policy at a bad time.”

It is not clear how much the policy will cost the Scottish Government.

A spokesperson for Cosla said: “We have just heard the announcement made at the SNP conference in relation to freezing council tax. We were unaware of it in advance.

“This has longer term implications for all councils right across the country, at a time when we know there are acute financial pressures, and where we are jointly looking at all local revenue raising options.”