COUNCILS deserve a new deal to pave the way towards fresh cash-raising powers that would reduce the burden on central government, it has been claimed.

With wholesale reform of local government in the pipeline, the Greens are calling for a "new relationship" between Holyrood and councils, mirroring the system which the Scottish Government has secured from Westminster.

Accusing all Holyrood administrations since devolution of treating councils as an “afterthought”, the party said current arrangements gave Scottish ministers disproportionate power at a time when they were prising fiscal powers from the UK government.

READ MORE: Workers face worst pay growth since Napoleonic Wars

As recently as the late 1980s councils raised half their own revenues while today around 85 per cent comes from the Scottish Government.

At the same time, the Greens say, the percentage of revenue devolved to Holyrood from Westminster has increased from 10 per cent in 1998 to 50 per cent with the new Scotland Act powers.

The party points to warnings this week from watchdogs over the perilous financial state of local authorities as evidence of the need for change.

And they highlight their success in leveraging an additional £160 million for councils in the Scottish Budget following a deal with the SNP as a signal of their muscle to deliver.

The party has now launched a report on the need for new arrangements which would “offer local authorities some of the benefits which the Scottish Government has itself experienced through the Fiscal Framework agreed with the UK Government”.

Andy Wightman, the Greens’ local government spokesman, said: “Local services and democracy are being undermined by excessive central control.

"Successive Scottish Governments have treated councils as an afterthought rather than an equal partner despite the importance of local services.

“If we want a flourishing local democracy as is taken for granted elsewhere in Europe, we must increase fiscal autonomy and provide local government with a greater range of fiscal powers.

“The Commission on Local Tax Reform has already noted that councils are limited in their ability to raise additional revenue independently of the Scottish Government. Reform is clearly needed.

“A Local Government Fiscal Framework, similar to that which exists between the UK Government and the Scottish Government, would provide clarity, predictability and autonomy for our councils."

READ MORE: Workers face worst pay growth since Napoleonic Wars

The report comes in the same week as the Accounts Commission warned that only 14 councils have long-term financial strategies, and that annual funding settlements from the Scottish Government make this more challenging.

It states that at present there is no statutory framework underpinning local government finances and that what was required was a legal basis for the relationship with central government, setting out both parties’ responsibilities, consequences of their decisions, rules on debt and reserves and establishing options for raising cash. Among the options previously suggested are property taxes, land value tax, sales tax and local income tax.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the Finance Secretary has already said, during this Parliament the Scottish Government will consult with local government on exchanging a proportion of general revenue grant for a proportion of income tax receipts. This would allow local government to benefit directly from economic growth, reduce councils’ dependence on the central government grant and make taxation to fund local services more progressive.”