Letter: Council tax disparity highlights its flaws

The campaign to "unfreeze" the council tax seems to be well under way. Lord Foulkes has waded in with the implicit suggestion that the freeze has had a regressive rather than progressive effect (your report, 26 August).

Yet there is a lot more to this than he and many prominent people in the Labour Party think. Firstly, all social groups will be affected by council tax increases.

This would place an increased burden on household budgets at a time when changes to child benefits, concessionary travel, charges for personal care, prescription charges and heating allow-ances may well be on the way.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Secondly, the disparity between what Band A householders have saved because of the freeze, and what those in much higher bands have saved is due to the unfairness of the band system itself.

The system created more than 19 years ago has a number of flaws, most notably that those in the highest band cannot pay any more than three times those in the lowest band.

This was part of the compromise the then environment secretary Michael Heseltine made with the Conservative right wing to get the measure through.

Despite various public utterances over the years Labour has done nothing to reform the bands or instigate a revaluation of properties. It launched a quite effective rearguard campaign to thwart the Scottish Government's attempts to introduce a local income tax.

It now needs to show the public that it can come up with a workable reform of the council tax. Until it does, a call to increase the tax is unlikely to pay political dividends.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court


Those who are wealthy enough to live in houses with the highest council tax band are hardly going to notice a difference either way of 406 in their bills, but the more modest savings for those at the other end of the scale would have been very welcome after years of rises which outpaced inflation.

If George Foulkes wants the rich to pay their fair share for local services he should throw his considerable weight behind any future proposals for a local income tax, as an increase in council tax will hit lower income groups the hardest while affecting those at the top hardly at all.

Is a tax scattergun approach that marginally reduces champagne consumption for the few by inflicting pain on everyone else now official Labour policy?

Andrew Kemp


Rosyth, Fife