Can the LibDems really scrap Council Tax?
I am always in Birmingham, but from tomorrow my fair city will be filled to the brim with Liberal sorts attending the Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference and one of the ites on the agenda is the potential scrapping of Council Tax. Unfortunately they do also have an idea for its replacement.
Last year the LibDems were riding high on the wave of getting into Government by accident, but since then they have been vilified over tuition fees, they have lost 747 council seats and control of nine councils and their opinion polls are running at the lowest ratings for twenty years. Good job Dave is such a pal eh Nick.
Still, from a position of such lowliness, as a late eighties popstar once said* “the only way is up”, and what better way to come back from the edge than to talk about some policies that will really get up the flaring nostrils of the Conservative friends.
One of their current favourite campaigns is to replace the ‘unfair’ Council Tax with a local income tax. Which is effectively what Council Tax is. But what they want to do is to calculate Council Tax nationally on the grounds (geddit) of the land occupied, rather than the property value, hence the catchy new moniker bestowed on the Garden Tax.
Confused? Let Tom Brake MP (LibDem, Carshalton and Wallington ) explain it all on the LibDems ‘Axe the Tax’ campaign website:
“If you live in Hackney, in a normal flat, you'll pay more Council Tax than the Prime Minister, who lives in a luxurious home in central London!
That's true if you live in Haringey, Richmond, Newcastle, Blackpool… - in fact, it's true if you live in any of 175 different council areas up and down the country.”
The ‘science’ behind this claim is that the top band of Westminster Council’s Council Tax charge is less than the average Band D rating in other Councils. The LibDems therefore want to replace the banding with a National calculation based on area size and development potential and then weight the charge in relation to ability to pay. The current Prime Minister is not a fan.
LibDems deputy leader Simon Hughes, told the Evening Standard: "The current system of council tax is outdated and unfair - many people on average incomes find paying their council tax a struggle whilst millionaires do not pay a fair share. Liberals and Liberal Democrats have long argued for a fairer system of land and property taxation.
"I welcome any proposals which move the burden of taxation towards developers and large land owners who have made huge profits out of rising land values in the capital and away from many hard working people on lower and middle incomes."
However, Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, surprised no-one by saying: "This is a blizzard of taxes which will alarm people in communities throughout London and the South-East. A lot of people, particularly retired people, who are asset rich but income poor simply would not be able to afford to pay such property taxes."
People living in flats and standard terraced homes in many parts of the country could, however, pay less under the tax.
The proposals, along with other anti-Conservative thoughts such as the Mansion Tax will be debated at the LibDem Conference which runs until Wednesday. Given how committed they are to this campaign, we could see the new tax introduced as early as next year.
Oh wait, this is the LIB DEMS. It’ll never happen. Unless it’s something that’ll never happen. Like increased tuiton fees...
*Yazz. I saw her live once. Supporting Bros. See, you can go on to bigger and better things even if you were once a Brossette. Like working for Bitterwallet.