EAST Renfrewshire Council (ERC) has benefited more from changes to council tax than any other local authority in Scotland, a new report has revealed.

A three per cent hike in council tax was introduced by ERC for 2017/18 after the Scottish Government lifted a ‘freeze’ on payments that had been in place for a decade.

However, figures released by the Audit Commission show that ERC is actually benefiting from a 12 per cent jump in council tax income, largely thanks to Holyrood’s decision to reform the banding system under which properties are assessed.

The extra cash has flowed in as East Renfrewshire has a large number of properties in the higher council tax bands.

A spokesman for ERC said: “The Scottish Government introduced legislation, which came into force in April 2017, to change the way council tax is calculated, resulting in increased charges for properties in bands E to H.

“As a result of East Renfrewshire having a large number of properties in the higher council tax bands, the changes have led to increased council tax income.

“Despite these recent increases, band D council tax rates in East Renfrewshire remain below the national average.”

The Audit Commission report also highlighted that ERC is the fourth thriftiest local authority in Scotland, using less reserves than originally planned.

Costs associated with debt vary across councils as a proportion of income from general revenue grants and taxation. Again, East Renfrewshire fared well, with only four councils in Scotland borrowing less.

The ERC spokesman added: “The council operated within its budget during 2016/17, allowing it to contribute the underspent amount to its reserves at the end of the year.

“This will assist in addressing the financial challenges anticipated in future.”

Audit Scotland pointed out that councils currently have a combined total of £14.5billion of debt and some will have eaten through all of their financial reserves within a couple years.

East Renfrewshire Council leader Tony Buchanan said: “Council reserves are a one-off – once you have eaten into them, they have gone.

“We look at everything very carefully on this council.”

The Audit Scotland report shows that local authorities around the country used a total of £79million in reserves for general running costs last year.

It also revealed that 10 per cent of council budgets was spent on servicing debt.