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Letter: Council Tax Reform to Reflect Today’s Values Would Solve Revenue Problem

Published on: 2 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 2 Dec, 2020

Cllr Tim Anderson

From: David Roberts

In response to: Dragon Interview: Cllr Tim Anderson on GBC’s Budget

This is essential watching. An excellent explanation of the challenges by Cllr Anderson, which all Guildford residents need to get their head around. His commitment to openness and consultation is a breath of fresh air, so please keep communicating.

The Tory government has been abdicating their responsibilities for 10 years of austerity as well as Brexit and Covid, dumping them on local councils. This won’t be solved until the endlessly delayed reform of council tax bands finally arrives.

The top Band in Guildford (Band H) starts at a 1991 property value of just £320,000, worth about £700,000 today, meaning thousands of homes now worth double or triple their 1991 evaluation are scandalously underpaying.

The result is a grotesque and dangerous reliance on erratic parking revenue. To help balance the books, I see no alternative to a much bigger drive towards shared services.

Although this has implications for democratic accountability, most services could surely be delivered through pragmatic, hub-and-spoke arrangements. Not all councils need to be full-service authorities.

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test 4 Responses to Letter: Council Tax Reform to Reflect Today’s Values Would Solve Revenue Problem

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    December 3, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    Does David Roberts advocate a doubling or even tripling of council tax rates across the board?

    I’m reminded of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” I fear that should a change to the council tax bandings take place, bearing in mind that all properties have significantly increased in value since 1991, we will all find ourselves paying considerably more, not just the “rich folks.”

    Also, I have no idea as to David’s political affiliations, but speaking as a voter who tends to vote for whichever person or party, that seems to be the most trustworthy to me, let us not forget that, to the best of my understanding, the cause of the last decade of austerity was the profligate spending of money they didn’t have by the Blair and Brown governments.

    The sad thing is, that just as austerity was beginning to be lifted, Covid came along and destroyed the apparent progress that had been made in getting the country’s finances in order.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    December 3, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    I have serious concerns regarding any revaluation of our homes. Mine brought for bottom dollar as the house was “in need of refurbishment” and no on else wanted to buy it. Having spent six years refurbishing it using my own skills, it is now worth 2.5 times what we paid.

    Now retired, the house has the same “sales description” In terms of number of bedrooms, reception rooms and garden size, as when I started. Am I to be taxed on my own practical unpaid work, on my own property; a tax on self-improvement?

    Why should my home be re-valued to match a pseudo sales value when its not for sale?

    So how should council services be paid for? I for one think the “poll tax” was the fairest, but its application was less than fair last time it was applied with no control of acceptable levels. Perhaps a local income tax is the way forward.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    December 3, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    I am simply recommending that Council Tax bands be brought up to date with present-day market values. Currently, to quote HM Government’s website (www.gov.uk/guidance/understand-how-council-tax-bands-are-assessed) “the value is based on the price the property would have sold for on the open market on 1 April 1991”.

    This is plainly bonkers, but regular, scheduled updates have repeatedly been postponed by successive governments who fear short-term electoral damage. The result is that Council Tax bands no longer reflect today’s values, particularly at the top end where house prices have inflated at a higher rate in the intervening decades.

    This makes Council Tax highly regressive, with poorer households increasingly subsidising richer ones. The top tax band now starts at the price of a moderately large house in Guildford, while those with mansions, worth several millions, pay the same amount and no more. This is unfair and starves our councils of cash that richer householders would willingly pay. Adding two or three more bands beyond Band H would help bring down the tax for everyone else.

    As for “profligate spending” of money governments don’t have, does Dave Middleton seriously think Mr Sunak falls short of Messrs Blair and Brown? The cost of Brexit and Covid is proving far higher than that of the 2008 financial crash.

  4. Roland Dunster Reply

    December 5, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    David Roberts’ suggestion of adding two or three more Council Tax bands beyond Band H would seem to me to have merit and be worthy of consideration.

    However he lets himself down badly with his crass comparison of the current government’s spending to mitigate the worst effects of a global pandemic and the profligacy of previous Labour administrations.

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