Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Prescott: Gone but not forgotten

The Tory Leader in Norwich, Cllr Antony Little, expressed concern at reports of the Labour Government’s secret plans to increase council tax bills on homes with attractive features and home improvements.

As a testing ground for England, Labour Ministers are this month revaluing local tax bills in Northern Ireland. Under their brand new system, from April 2007, local tax bills will be a set percentage of the house price and will be unlimited – like an annual stamp duty on every home. Internal documents reveal:

• Taxed for your view: Under the new system, homes with scenic or ‘premium views’, adjoining parks or green spaces, or in Conservation Areas will pay higher taxes. Ordnance Survey maps and councils’ planning departments will be used to identify these features.
• 21st Century window tax: The internal and external specifications of the property will affect the tax bill. Patios, garden sheds, double-glazing, conservatories or extensions are ‘site positive’ features that will hike bills.
• House price tax: Tax bills will be based on the house price of the property, and be unlimited, unlike the present ‘banded’ system of council tax. Local residents will be charged 0.78% of their home’s value each year - local councils can vary the precise rate. In Norwich, this would mean a tax increase of £217 per year for the average home. Only Labour heartlands – like Tony Blair’s Sedgefield and John Prescott’s Hull may pay less.

Cllr Little said:
“I am very concerned over Labour’s plans for an unlimited house price tax. The Government wants to increase the tax burden on Norwich, and turn council tax into a tax on house prices and tap into the property boom.

“Northern Ireland is now being used as a testing ground for Government tax inspectors and the levying of a new house price tax. I fear hard-working families and pensioners who have saved and improved their homes now face soaring tax bills, without any improvements in their local services.”

Former Labour councillor, Sir Michael Lyons, conducting a Government review into council tax, is to publish his proposals later this year. His interim report in December explicitly stated that he was actively considering introducing the same system of local taxation that is now being rolled out in Northern Ireland. In January, the taxpayer-funded National Institute of Economic and Social Research also endorsed this new house price tax

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