A FORMER Ayrshire SNP MSP has hit out at the First Minister's plan to freeze council tax across Scotland.

Ms Freeman, who served as Scottish Health Minister during the Covid pandemic, spoke out on BBC Scotland's Sunday show at the weekend.

Humza Yousaf anounced the move during his closing speech at his party's conference in Aberdeen.

But Ms Freeman, who represented the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency before standing down as an SNP MSP in 2021, claimed it was not handled well.

The Scottish Government had earlier proposed raising council tax rates by as much as 22.5 per cent for homes in higher bands.

But Mr Yousaf pledged they will now remain at the current levels when councils set their budgets for 2024-25.

Ms Freeman told the Sunday Show: "I don't think it was handled particularly well because after it all we've had is coverage - not about the announcement, but about people's anger and annoyance at the announcement.

"So that's never a good thing."

Ms Freeman said that she could "see the sense" in a progressive policy of freezing council tax for lower bands, but indicated that she did not personally need her bill to be frozen.

She claimed there was "always a pressure" to have "important things to say" in a conference speech and that could tempt leaders to focus on announcements rather than the impact of policies.

She also described the fact that council tax had not been reformed since devolution as a "failure".

Cumnock Chronicle: First Minister Humza YousafFirst Minister Humza Yousaf (Image: PA)

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said they had not been consulted on the council tax proposal and warned it could badly hit local authority funding.

But justice secretary Angela Constance denied that Mr Yousaf's failure to consult local authorities ahead of his speech was a mistake.

Ms Constance told the same programme: "The First Minister has a duty to serve the people of Scotland and right now there is a cost of living crisis and his announcement will benefit 2.5 million households."

A spokesperson for Cosla said: "We deplore the way the announcement was made and its substance, both of which fly in the face of the Verity House Agreement which we all recently signed.

"It has been shown that previous council tax freezes have been regressive, having no impact for the poorest in society and eroding the council tax base, compounding councils' ongoing underfunding.

"We are clear that local taxation and particularly council tax should be left for democratically elected councils to determine."