THE SNP last night demanded the opposition parties set out their plans to shake-up the council tax, after suffering a week of criticism for their own “timid” reforms to the levy.

Local government minister Marco Biagi said other party leaders should “ditch the posturing” and spell out their alternatives or get behind the SNP’s plans.

Nicola Sturgeon was widely criticised last week after announcing the SNP planned to keep the council tax, despite previously promising to scrap it.

The First Minister said the rates for bands E to H will increase from 2017, with Band H homes paying around £517 more per year. The extra £100 million raised will be ring-fenced for education.

The freeze introduced in 2008 will also end, with councils able to hike rates by up to 3 per cent, raising around £70m, the same amount they got during the freeze to offset inflation.

The council umbrella group Cosla said the changes were “a damp squib”, while other parties mocked the SNP for breaking its promise and a lack of radicalism.

In an effort to get back on the front foot, Biagi said the SNP had set out its stall for the election and the other parties now had a duty to do likewise.

He said: “All the opposition parties have had to offer is tired rhetoric and a complete avoidance of any detail. If any of the opposition parties want to start being taken even remotely seriously, they need to be clear with people in Scotland what their own plans are - and accept that simply carping from the sidelines isn't going to cut it.

"As far back as 2009, Labour commissioned a report to decide what their policy should be on local tax reform - and to this day, it still hasn't been published."

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone added: “It's rich of the SNP to make demands like these, when its own council tax plans were a straight lift from Scottish Conservative-commissioned recommendations barely a month ago. And for a party which hasn't even said what it will do with income tax when the power comes to Holyrood, perhaps it should sort out its own house before criticising other people's."

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “This is laughable from a minister who has broken the central promise his party was elected on: to scrap the council tax. Marco Biagi should be embarrassed to promote this plan. We will outline our fairer plans in the coming weeks.”

Citing a new analysis from the Scottish Parliament’s independent information centre, Labour also claimed the SNP had cut £1.4bn from schools and local services since 2011.

Ahead of the budget on March 16, the SNP called on George Osborne to end his “ideological obsession with austerity” and increase spending on public services by 0.5 per cent.

Stewart Hosie, the SNP’s deputy leader and Treasury spokesman, said Osborne had already failed to meet his own targets on exports, growth and deficit reduction, and shouldn’t compound problems with more “terrifying” cuts.

He said: “George Osborne will be a lonely figure at the despatch box on Budget day. Both friends and facts are deserting him. In the harsh light of economic reality, it will be clear for all to see that the Chancellor and his Tory benches cling to an ideological commitment to cutting the state – whatever the cost.

"The SNP's alternative budget would stimulate GDP growth, support wage growth and tax receipts, and be a major signal of confidence in our economy."

Osborne yesterday dropped plans to change pension tax relief, a policy that could have proved political poison among better off Tory voters. A proposed scheme would have ended £21bn of upfront relief - worth more to those paying higher rates of income tax - but made pension pot withdrawals tax-free.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Osborne was "yet again ducking a big decision", while campaigners said he had missed a "huge opportunity" to tackle pension inequality.