Friday, 24 September 2010

Any Chance of Honesty on the Council Tax?

The ConDems have announced that they are not going to carry out the ‘rate review’ planned for this year – and they’re not going to do it before the next General Election.

Now I don’t want to be too fair to the ConDems, but Labour did exactly the same. Labour postponed a rate review until after the last General Election.

Pickles is arguing that a review isn’t particularly necessary because the differentials remain approximately the same – being a plain speaking Yorkshireman he didn’t use a word as complicated as ‘differentials’.

But, come on, let’s have a bit of honesty here (oh yes.) The reason all three parties have gone for postponing the re-evaluation is that many people will end up spending more on council tax. We can all see that – clear as day, so why pretend otherwise? The last review was in 91 – twenty years ago.

Can we draw any conclusion from this? (Other than that no politicians will face facts?) My take on it is that if a tax is so difficult to levy fairly that nobody will address the equity or otherwise of it, then the tax itself is unworkable and should immediately be replaced with one that’s better.

We’ll wait and see – but I’m not holding my breath.


  1. I'll tell you why they don't want to do a revaluation. And it has nothing to do with protecting the poor from huge increases. That's just propaganda. If they keep the total tax burden the same, then the average tax take would be neutral. Some winners, some losers, but ultimately much fairer than using 20 year old data it's all based on now.

    No, the reason its not going to happen is it would be completely contrary to the pending public sector cuts. How could they cut the VOA's resources by 25% and then ask them to do a big resource hungry job? No, the VOA's resources would need to be increased (at least in the short term), and that just ain't gonna happen!

    And as for the suggestion that council tax must be unworkable and should be replaced, that's not going to happen either, because the fact is, council tax is relatively easy - i.e. cheap - to administer. Unlike with PAYE for instance, you can't hide property.

  2. Thanks for your comment - sorry about the delay in reply, but I've been busy in Brighton with BRIGHTON ROCK UNSEEN - then changed internet/phone suppliers!!

    I think your thoughts could be right. It would take a big pile of resources. And I think you're also correct, that no change in system is likely to happen in the near future . . . far too expensive. So no chance, even, of a real debate about what a fairer system would look like . . .
    You can't, as you say, hide property - but I wonder how much fiddling goes on?