Britain’s property tax has been unpopular for decades, even before council tax replaced the community charge (poll tax) in 1993. Ahead of this summer’s General Election the relatively new leader of the SNP wants there to be review on other systems to replace council tax. Nicola Sturgeon – who succeeded Alex Salmond in November – has asked a commission to suggest alternatives because of the party’s consistent wish for a different way of taxing home owners. They have been able to implement this desired change in Scottish Parliament because of minority administration at Holyrood.
In a Scottish Parliament speech, Scotland’s First Minister said: “These plans aim to build a sense of shared endeavour about how we create a wealthier and more equal society. It is founded on three key priorities – participation, prosperity and fairness.”
Their bid to change Scotland’s property tax remains an aim for the SNP and has been argued by Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors in England. They are adamant council tax charges do not take into account salaries and is an outdated system which urgently needs replacing after bills have soared since its introduction over 20 years ago. After 10 years of the change in property tax billing, charges had increased by 70 per cent with the Liberal Democrats believing these hit the poorest the hardest and richer citizens were not paying enough in comparison.
They still passionately feel that this is a regressive tax and needs to be changed. The SNP wanted council tax to be replaced with a local income tax in 2007 and this is the same wording Liberal Democrat representatives use when suggesting a system to succeed the charge. This aims to divert more financial support to the most deprived areas. The fact council tax is based on property value rather than a person’s salary meant that numerous member of the public ended up having higher council tax bills than Tony Blair had as Prime Minister.
Another reason the Liberal Democrats oppose council tax is because of how inefficient they believe it is. They claim it costs around £600 million each year to collect and administer this charge, but, most importantly, council tax causes problems for pensioners and those on lower incomes. Therefore, they propose a local income tax system – which would be collected the same way national income tax is in order to reduce administration costs.
The Liberal Democrats’ ‘Axe the Tax’ campaign has not generated much recent momentum in the Houses of Parliament with much more focus on Labour’s plan to introduce a mansion tax. However, the issue of council tax rises adversely affecting home owners and families remains a big talking point among councillors as well as MPs. Council Tax Benefit Reduction Schemes have been significantly cut as a result of financial strain on local government resources, with less support expected in Wolverhampton from April.
Low-income families are expected to be hit by a 10 per cent reduction in support, resulting in larger council tax bills. At Council Tax Advisors we give everyone free and impartial advice on their debts from council tax charges and many other types of payments. We work with councils and bailiffs to give you affordable repayments to reduce the stresses of owing money. Our company was set up after our experiences of dealing with bailiffs so we know what pressures you are facing and are here to help.