Radical plans to transform the stricken finances of Scotland’s local authorities are to be unveiled on Monday.

Scrapping council tax and targeting relief schemes for private schools – even wiping out council debt entirely – are among the ideas in a new report which will be presented to union chiefs.

Crumbling roads and the soaring costs of public services are set to get worse unless drastic action is taken to rebalance local authorities’ books, according to experts, and it is hoped the proposals – seen by The Herald on Sunday ahead of publication – will spark a wide-ranging debate on how best to give councils the financial lifeline they so desperately need.

Controversial tax methods, renationalising public transport and scrapping business bonus schemes are essential if Scotland is to address its growing funding crisis for local councils, the report says.

The research, commissioned by trade union Unison, calls for urgent and drastic measures to help councils get back on their feet.

Council leaders say they have nothing left to cut from their already depleted resources and the situation is the worst many have ever seen.

Carried out by Dr Geoffrey Whittam of Glasgow Caledonian University and Professor Mike Danson of Heriot-Watt University, the report is due to be unveiled tomorrow at the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) annual congress.

It follows an Audit Scotland report released last month on the state of local government funding and a plea by Cosla in November for an additional £500m for councils.

The Scottish Government has received a 0.4% reduction in funding from Westminster in the last five years, while councils have faced with 10 times this amount, with a 4% decrease in their funding from the Scottish Government.

Much of the cash provided in the last budget was ring-fenced, meaning it could only be spent on specific initiatives such as nursery education and elderly care, while the amount of money available for spending on other essential services was reduced.

According to Cosla, councils across the country have seen a £1.64bn reduction in the amount of money available for their core services, taking in to account inflation, since 2011/12.

Unison chief Mike Kirby said it is now time for urgent action due to a "convergence of austerity measures and the other financial pressures that councils find themselves faced with".

He explained: "Local government has borne a disproportionate burden of financial pressures. We see it in the closure of libraries and other public facilities.

"We see it in increased charges for services for instance elderly care at home, things like meals on wheels."

Kirby explained the current approach to addressing the fall in funding from the Scottish Government has been "piecemeal" at best, citing examples such as disposable cup charges and tourist tax suggested at the last budget.

He said: "There needs to be a fundamental look at how we resource local government. Tourist tax might be fine for somewhere like Edinburgh but elsewhere – for example, Clackmannanshire – their capacity to raise additional taxes in a relatively low-tax economy is not the same as would be in major towns and cities.

"There are unequal pressures which present a challenge to the Scottish Government, and all political parties need to look medium to longer term about how we address this. This report is a contribution to that essential debate."

Report author Dr Mike Danson said: "Within the constraints of the fiscal powers devolved under successive Scotland Acts, there are still some opportunities to generate greater funding for public services locally. Some changes will require time to explore, plan and introduce but it is economically efficient and effective to shift the tax burden on to property and land owners and away from Council Taxpayers, making the tax system more progressive and more based on ability to pay."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Local authorities will receive £11.2 billion in 2019-20 through the local government finance settlement. This is a real-terms increase in both revenue (1.2%) and capital funding (21.5%) compared to the previous year.

“20 councils chose not to increase council tax by the full 4.79% permitted, which would have increased their funding by £30.8 million of additional income this year.

“The package of local tax reform measures announced at the budget will deliver the most significant empowerment of local authorities since devolution.

“We will, this year, formally consult on the principles of a locally determined tourist tax, in addition to supporting a Green amendment to the Transport Bill that would allow councils to choose whether they wished to introduce a workplace parking levy.

“We will also devolve Non-Domestic Rates empty property relief to local authorities in time for the next revaluation in April 2022 and will also convene cross-party talks on replacing the current council tax.”