Isitfair was started in October 2002 by Christine and John Melsom as a local action
group in Hampshire. They were incensed about the proposed huge increase in Council
Tax bills for the year 2003/04. This was the year when the average increase was
12.9%! Although the Government at that time knew that this was going to happen,
they did absolutely nothing to prevent it. Instead, they blamed the local councils!
Isitfair believes that the current council tax system is unfair, being based on property values as opposed to peoples' ability to pay. At the end of the day, despite the arguments for and against this system, properties do not pay this tax, it is the occupants of the property that pay it, and not necessarily all of them.
Click here to read more.
In Scotland, our affiliated campaign group has made a submission to The Commission on Local Tax Reform calling for a fairer system based on the following principles:
The remit of The Commission on Local Tax Reform is to identify and examine alternatives
that would deliver a fairer system of local taxation to support the funding of services
delivered by local government.
To read SAACT's submission, please click here.
All political parties have been urged to commit to council tax revaluation in the next
parliament by the British Property Federation. In its
of 7 August 2014 it refers to research done by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)
which suggests the council tax system needs to be 'restored to fairness'.
"A revaluation, coupled with extra bands on council tax, would be accepted by those who are better off and see that council tax equivalents in comparable cities like New York are far greater than they are in the UK.
Further information and statements about the research are contained in the following press reports:
PublicFinance - Parties urged to commit to council tax revaluation ahead of general election
24dash.com - Call to reboot council tax to fund affordable homes
The JRF report may be downloaded from here.
The only recent experience there is of a council tax revaluation was in Wales in 2005. A brief summary of the Welsh revaluation may be read here. However, the Welsh experience was enough for the proposed 2007 revaluation in England to be cancelled.
The JRF report looks at four different systems:
Tax reform was examined on the basis of three criteria:
Interestingly, the tax reform is looking at a hybrid income and property tax. It
states that "A tax based purely on property values without assessing the ability
to pay would therefore be unfair." and "However, it is practically, politically
and ultimately ethically important that a property tax must also have regard to current income."
The inclusion of ability to pay is welcome as this was, and remains to be, the founding
principal of the Isitfair campaign since its inception in 2002.
What next then? We would like you to read the report and let us have your thoughts and opinions. Please leave these on the Members' Forum (link on the left menu).
Links to the:
British Property Federation (BPF)
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)
Isitfair first raised this issue in 2009 and have regularly urged Governments to
address this since then. At long last Kris Hopkins MP Parliamentary Under Secretary
of State for Communities and Local Government has raised this issue in Parliament.
He asks if Parish and Town councils should be subject to the same cap and referendum rules as other local authorities, and would welcome your views on this.
Click here to read more.
Lord Marlesford has introduced a Private Members' Bill to create a new set of council
tax valuation bands to apply to all dwellings bought or sold after 1 April 2000. If
passed, the Act would extend to England and Wales and Scotland.
Price paid data would be obtained from the Land Register for each dwelling bought or sold after 1 April 2000. There is no mention of adjusting this data for house price inflation meaning that some data will be up to 15 years out of date.
Click here to read more.
We have returned to the Parish and Town Councils. For years we have been bending
the ear of the opposition for these councils to be included in any capping and possible
referenda. We thought they were listening, it seems not.
Due to Town and Parish councils being exempt from any capping of excessive council tax rises, this then leads to the double taxation issue. Double taxation occurs when a higher authority e.g. a District Council passes down responsibility for some local service or amenity to the lower Town or Parish Council, but does not pass on the funding it currently receives for it. This allows the higher authority to keep its council tax precept unchanged or with a small increase, while the Town or Parish Council has to increase its council tax precept to cover the additional costs. The effect of this is that the council tax payer is now paying twice for the same service or amenity. Read more...
Please note that all links will open in a new window.
On 26 June 2013 the DCLG issued a press release which announced that the spending
settlement for local government in 2015 to 2016 will enable local authorities to
freeze council tax bills in England for another two years (2014-15 and 2015-16).
Authorities that freeze or reduce their council tax will receive a grant equivalent
to a 1% increase on 2013-14 Band D council tax levels. However, full details
about how the scheme will operate are still awaited from the Government. It will
be interesting to see how many authorities will take up this freeze grant offer. Research shows that:
in 2011-12 all 421 eligible authorities (councils, fire and police authorities) accepted the freeze grant
in 2012-13 62 authorities turned it down
in 2013-14 124 out of 354 local councils, 25 out of 37 police authorities/PCCs and 15 out of 30 fire authorities turned down the offer.
Will the downward trend continue? Click here to find out.
The latest press release also states that if a local authority seeks to raise its council tax by more than 2% they would need to put it to their local electorate in a binding referendum. We note that, again, there is no mention of the brake being applied to town and parish councils. Isitfair will again broach this subject with Eric Pickles.
Remember that at the end of last year the Secretary of State decided there were to be some exceptions to the 2% excessiveness principle for 2013-14 covering shire district councils, fire and polic authorities whose 2012-13 Band D council tax was in the lower quartile for their category of authority. For these authorities a referendum was required only where the increase in the relevant basic amount of council tax for 2013-14 was more than 2% and there was a cash increase of more than £5 per year in the relevant basic amount. Maybe he will see fit to do the same again - but this time include town and parish councils. Full details are here.
The full press release may be downloaded from the Communities & Local Government website.
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