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Welcome to Isitfair

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.

SAACT - Response to The Commission on Local Tax Reform

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:

  1. Council Tax should be scrapped in favour of a fair system
  2. The replacement tax must not be based on domestic property value but should be levied on all residents who are able to pay; people and not property use council services
  3. The replacement tax must be based on ability to pay (from income) and should contain no regressive elements; regressive taxation fosters further inequality and hardship
  4. The replacement tax must not disadvantage those whose circumstances are such that they would qualify for Council Tax Benefit/Reduction under the present system
  5. The replacement tax should avoid the necessity for means-tested benefits

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.

British Property Federation calls for a council tax revaluation

All political parties have been urged to commit to council tax revaluation in the next parliament by the British Property Federation.  In its press release 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:

  1. The existing Council Tax system
  2. A revalued Council Tax system
  3. A national property tax based on a fixed percentage of property values
  4. A progressive national property tax based on a higher percentage of the whole of property values over certain thresholds

Tax reform was examined on the basis of three criteria:

  1. to ensure fairness between places
  2. to pursue fairness between people
  3. to reduce house price volatility

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)

Council Tax: Double taxation have your say

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.

New Council Tax Bands

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 return to double taxation and the Parish/Town Council Tax Scam

Parish/Town Council Tax Scam 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. Read more...

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...

Council Tax News and Information

Please note that all links will open in a new window.

Communities and Local Government: Two more years of Council Tax freeze announced

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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