It is not often that you will hear anyone saying they are surprised at how little council tax they pay, given the record number of people who are now seeking help with council tax arrears in the UK.
A look at the identity of the person voicing such an opinion however and all of a sudden the shock value disappears.
This is because it is the view of former City watchdog boss Lord Turner, who has admitted his astonishment at how little he has to pay in council tax on his home in the affluent London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, compared to homeowners in more modest accommodation elsewhere in the country.
In fairness to the peer, who used to head the Financial Standards Authority, he has not sought to defend his position and has joined the growing calls for owners of high value houses to pay more council tax.
He has openly questioned the equality of Britain’s current property tax system, which meant that people living in the north of England in homes that are worth considerably less than those in London, were still hit to a comparable degree.
“We’ve got to find a more balanced economic model. There are issues about the supply of housing, but there are also some legitimate issues about the taxation of housing,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme.
Lord Turner went on to argue that the introduction of council tax was a regression on the previous rates based system, which was widely derided during its existence.
He said: “When we had those unpopular things called the rates, there was at least a relationship between the value of your house and how much you paid in tax. That disappeared with council tax. I’m really quite amazed how little council tax I pay on my house in Kensington compared with what somebody pays with a house worth a very small fraction of that in the north of England. I’m not sure that is a fair system.”
The intervention of Lord Turner comes as the European Commission urged Britain to raise taxes on higher value properties, build more houses, and consider an adjustment to the Help to Buy scheme.
As part of its 2014 economic policy recommendations for the UK, the commission also called on the government to widen the taxation circle to include more people so as to aid with the deficit reduction programme, which has so far tended to lean heavily in the direction of spending cuts.
UKIP voters in the recent European elections will point to these proposals as justification for their support of the party, which are also likely to irritate Prime Minister David Cameron who has accused the EU of being “too big, too bossy, too interfering.”
The debate over the fairness of the council tax system is set to rumble on, of that there is no doubt. However, help is at hand for the thousands of people who are struggling to pay their council tax. If you are one of them, contact Council Tax Advisors today for free, independent advice.