THE council tax freeze has cost the Scottish Government £2.5billion, according since its introduction in 2008, according to a new Holyrood report.

Figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) show the government has more than covered the cost of pegging bills at 2008 levels, despite claims to the contrary by council chiefs and opposition party MSPs.

However, the report also shows local authorities' share of overall Scottish Government spending has fallen under the SNP compared with previous administrations.

The report, by politically impartial Holyrood officials, comes as a Scottish Government-backed commission prepares to unveil a set of recommendations for reforming local taxation later this autumn.

It found the council tax freeze has cost the Scottish Government £2.52billion.

The hand-out from government coffers amounted to £165million more than councils would have received had bills risen with inflation from 2008 the present financial year.

However, councils are receiving a small slice of government spending than they did under previous Labour-Lib Dem administrations.

Between 1999 and 2007, the local authority budget rose by 1.2 per cent less than overall, day-to-day government spending.

Since then it has fallen by six per cent, while overall government spending has dropped by three per cent.