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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Room with a view

I believe that I have read comment elsewhere on the so-called proposal to put houses in England with a good view into a higher council tax band, but I cannot recall where at the moment. Nevertheless the reaction of the Tories here contains all the hallmark of the opportunism and inconsistency for which they are becoming known.

They are now claiming that this is a modern day window tax but what did they expect when they introduced Council Tax in the first place? Any property tax has to relate to the value of the land or building that it is levied against. This means that revaluation is inevitable. If you do not have revaluation then it ceases to be a proper property tax. Equally, when you value a property you need to take into account its location and its aspect. That is what a prospective purchaser will do and in a free market it is demand that determines the value.

Ever since revaluation came onto the agenda the Tories have been ducking and diving to find a line which blames the Government for the level of the tax whilst not undermining the principles behind it. As a result they have been both dishonest and disingenuous. It is all very well to say, as they have done in Wales, that the Government have used the revaluation to hide huge hikes in Council Tax, but in fact they are separate issues. Whereas the revaluation was a consequence of the Tories introducing the tax in the first place, so the high levels of tax can be attributed to the gearing effect caused when the Tories took business rates off local government.

Both Labour and the Tories need to accept that the problem is not caused by changes to the way Council Tax operates but to the principles on which the tax operates. Any property tax is going to be full of such anomolies. It is intrinsically a regressive tax. The only solution is to replace it with one that relates to the ability to pay. At least then the basic principle behind it will be fairness, a concept that is long overdue in local Government finance.
While I certainly agree that the Tories (and Labour's) position on Council Tax is completely ridiculous, I seriously question how you can justify that the only solution is to replace it with a tax based on 'ability to pay'. Plenty of extremely rich people have their wealth locked up in property (hence the phrase "safe as houses"), while young people in Britain have very little opportunity to accrue assets when property is at an inflated level and they have to pay for their education, their parent's pension and their own pension at the same time.

Why do you support a system that would have the effect of easing the tax burden off some of the richest in society while hitting some of the hardest working?
The key is how you design the tax obviously, but I do not believe that it will let the richest in society off the hook as you say.
never happen,

as a home owner you have no right to a view, you cant use those criteria to object in planning applications therefore they cant charge you for having them.

more over how are they going to check the view, and does that then mean that you are guaranteed that view? to problematic and expensive - the government will love it! - but it will never happen

commenting on james's comment

it wouldnt necessarily benefit the richest in society, those who are rich enough to commute etc... will have nicer views and those poorer who live in estates will presumably have less idealist views, housing being the prime concern.

saying that though i know some one who lives in a council house and has the most spectacular views of the breacon beacons, so even what i said before isn't set in stone.

i suppose it would be most appropriate form me to say my own beliefs on tax at this juncture.

i believe all tax should be collected by central government income tax style, and then given to councils to spend, but i would want that money that was raised for local use protected against other uses - defence for instance - that way i believe would be fairer, for OAPs etc...

prehaps after i finish uni ill right a book "if i ruled the country" what do you reckon?

on another matter peter - sorry that this is off topic but its been bugging me for a few days

what happens to the PR section of the vote if an independent candidate runs? are independents allowed on the regional list? and if hypathetically (is that spelt correctly) an independent gains a seat and a seat via the region what happens then?

if any one can answer this feel free either here or on my blog.
Independents are allowed to run on the list and have done so in both 1999 and 2003. If they get enough votes they get elected.
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