A plea for fairer Council Taxes
Coalition needs to take action
Yes, I know the World Cup is on and most minds are on England’s underwhelming performance against the USA, not to mention Robert Green’s howler, and last night in South Shields Snooker Centre was probably noisier than any bar in Rustenburg, but here is something else to exercise our minds with as local Labour councillors in South Tyneside have already started moaning and whinnying about the government’s tightening of the financial belt, despite the fact that Alistair Darling, the former Labour Chancellor, had heralded “spending cuts more severe than the Thatcher years” had Labour won.
So please take the time to read this guest post from Christine Melsome, writing on behalf of Is it Fair who campaign for the reform of Council Tax.
Council Tax must be made fairer.
“Those in areas of high property values have no choice but to pay perhaps half as much again or maybe even double that paid in cheaper areas merely to get a roof over their heads. I say again, they have no choice if they want to stay in the area in which they work and where their families and friends live. They commit a far greater proportion of their income to servicing hefty mortgages. When the property is finally theirs, of course it is a valuable asset, but they have paid dearly for it. We have to remember that it is only an asset when sold – until then the value means little, one has to live somewhere. Why are they punished, then, by absurdly high council tax, both throughout their mortgage years and afterwards, totally out of proportion to that paid by those in similar properties elsewhere?
In his speech to the House of Commons on 21 March 1991 prior to the introduction of Council Tax in April 1993, Michael Heseltine said, “…the system should ensure that regional variations in property values do not lead to disproportionate bills in high price areas.” Something has plainly gone badly wrong. What is the new government going to do to put this matter right?
Perhaps the place to start would be Formula Grant?
The grant system is due for a make-over. A manipulative Government has used this as a tool to tighten the screw on councils not flying their flag. Many areas of the country have been starved of funding while others are awash with cash. The system must be made fairer, and the sooner the better.
There is little to indicate that incomes, especially for pensioners, vary much across the country. Here is one example (and there are many). It may surprise you to know that the median income for Sunderland and for Eastbourne is about the same, but the average council tax per dwelling in Eastbourne is hundreds of pounds more.”