EAST Lothian Council’s Labour administration is proposing an “inflation-busting” five per cent council tax increase across the county in the coming year.

A draft budget proposed by the minority administration scraps last year’s agreed increase of three per cent annually for the next two years, replacing it with a yearly five per cent increase for until 2022.

If approved, it will mean council tax in East Lothian will rise by just under 20 per cent between 2019 and 2022.

And it will prove even costlier for council tenants, who are also facing a proposed five per cent hike in their rents annually for the next five years under the new budget plans.

The proposals are due to go before the local authority’s cabinet committee for approval on Tuesday.

However, SNP Group leader Councillor Stuart Currie has warned that his group will not support the increases to both council tax and rent.

He said: “This is an inflation-busting increase which we cannot support. We made it clear last year we will not back increases which are above inflation.”

The increase in council tax comes despite no national budget being announced by the Scottish Government, which sets out how much money local authorities can expect to receive, to date.

The Scottish Government budget has been delayed after Westminster’s budget was put back for the General Election.

However, local authorities have a duty to set their rent and council tax rates for the year ahead by March 11, and the local authority is pushing ahead with its draft plans.

East Lothian Council said it had based the five per cent increase on the "most up-to-date information available".

Councillor Norman Hampshire, depute council leader, said: "It is important to stress that, in line with previously taken council decisions, the administration is obligated to bring draft forward draft budget proposals to the January cabinet meeting.

"As we are awaiting the outcome of the local government funding settlement, which accounts for the vast majority of our revenue budget, it has not yet been possible to confirm the total amount of funding available to the council in 2020/21.

"We are also awaiting information on whether there will be any conditions with the settlement – such as a cap on any increase in council tax.

"In previous years, we have had earlier information on the outcome of the settlement but this hasn’t been available to us this year with the General Election having been held in December."

The council tax proposal overturns an agreement with the council’s Conservative opposition group to introduce the lower three per cent increase this year and next year.

The administration was forced to scrap its bid to introduce inflated council tax rises to get last year’s budget approved after the Tories refused to back the increase.

Instead, they agreed to raise council tax by 4.79 per cent – the highest figure allowed by the Scottish Government after it lifted the council tax freeze – and set a lower increase of three per cent in the following years.

At the time, Conservative Opposition Leader Councillor Jane Henderson said her group believed that service cuts could be introduced to make the lower increase “achievable, if not easy”.

The Conservative Group has declined to comment on the administration’s increased council tax proposals, which were revealed in papers released publicly yesterday.

Councillor Henderson said that the Labour Group’s budget was still in draft form while it awaits Scottish Government settlement figures.

She said: “Providing a running commentary on a line-by-line basis will not help the council reach a faster or better conclusion to negotiations.”

East Lothian Council currently has nine Labour councillors, seven Conservative councillors and six SNP councillors, so the administration will require support from outwith its own group to pass a budget.

A council spokesperson said: "The proposals being presented to cabinet are only in draft form and can form the basis of discussion ahead of the budget-setting meeting in February, when elected members will be asked to agree a budget.

"These proposals, including a council tax increase in 2020/21 and the two subsequent years, are based upon the most up-to-date information available.”