Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    “Punished for improving your home? says Lilley
    Council Tax Revaluation Will Be Modern-Day Windows Tax

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, warned today that the Government?s forthcoming council tax revaluation will mean soaring bills for local residents across Harpenden who have invested in home improvements and home owners who have pride in their property.

    The Labour Government is controversially spending over ?100 million on re-assessing the value of every home in England for council tax purposes; revised bills will be issued in 2007. Yet new Parliamentary questions tabled by Conservatives have revealed that the Government inspectors will be able to enter people?s homes, and will take into account the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, off-street parking, sheds and out-buildings, conservatories and the size of the garden when assessing the value of the property.

    This means that local residents in Harpenden who have invested in home improvements could be moved up one or more council tax bands. Shifting from Band D to Band E in Harpenden would, for example, mean a council tax hike of ?273 a year.

    Peter Lilley said: “Hard working families and pensioners have already faced punishing rises in council tax since 1997. Now Labour wants to hike your bills further by stealth, through a rigged council tax revaluation. Armies of clipboard inspectors will be descending on every town, including Harpenden, to inspect peoples? homes to justify this modern-day windows tax.

    “I fear that families who have saved and invested in their home will face soaring bills, without any improvements in their local services. Only Conservatives have voted against the council tax revaluation and I call on the Government to cancel their plans for this expensive and unnecessary stealth tax.?


    Notes to Editors

    Revaluation ? a home improvement tax

    The council tax revaluation in England is currently being conducted by the Valuation Office Agency. The new valuations will be public from September 2006; revised bills will be issued in April 2007.

    Questions tabled by Conservatives in Parliament have revealed that government inspectors from the Valuation Office will be able to enter people?s homes, and that the inspectors will take into account home improvements when assessing the value of a property for council tax.

    “Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Valuation Office Agency will take into account the (a) number of bathrooms, (b) number of bedrooms, (c) floor area, (d) age of the property, (e) off-street parking, (f) out-buildings, (g) conservatories and (h) size of garden when valuing a residence in the forthcoming council tax revaluation process in England. [4231]

    Dawn Primarolo: It is the intention of the Valuation Office Agency, when assigning dwellings to bands for the forthcoming council tax revaluation, to reflect a number of property attributes, including all those referred to, where a value significance can be established.?

    “Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Valuation Office Agency will have powers to enter residential premises when inspecting them during the forthcoming council tax revaluation process in England. [4174]

    Dawn Primarolo: It is a function of the listing officers, throughout the Valuation Office Agency, to carry out valuations for the purposes of compiling the new lists on 1 April 2007. Section 26(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 provides power of entry for inspection, subject to the requirements of section 26(2) and 26 (3), to provide written notice and production of authorisation.?

    Hansard, 15 June 2005, col. 386-7W

    The Valuation Office Agency is spending ?108 million on the revaluation process.
    Hansard, 21 May 2004, col. 1278W.

    Soaring bills from Labour?s rigged revaluations

    ? Labour claim revaluations are revenue neutral. They originally pledged, ?council tax revaluation: ? there should not be any change in the amount of council tax collected? (DTLR, Strong local leadership, quality public services, CM 5327, December 2001, p.102).

    ? Yet Wales is two years ahead of England, and revalued bills were issued in April 2005. In Wales, one in three homes have moved up a band, with only 8 per cent of homes moving down a band. In the first year of revaluation, average council tax bills across Wales have risen by 9.1 per cent, with further hikes next year as transitional relief is phased out.

    ? Based on the Welsh experience, 7 million homes in England will face soaring council tax bills. Moving up a band would cost a typical household in England ?270 a year, every year. The revaluation could raise up to ?2 billion a year in extra revenue by stealth for the Government.

    Liberal Democrat support for Labour tax rises

    Liberal Democrats in Parliament have supported Labour?s plans for third term council tax rises.

    – Liberal Democrat peers voted with Labour to introduce new council tax bands. Conservatives voted against (Lords Hansard, 10 September 2003, Col. 339).

    – Liberal Democrat peers voted with Labour to support the council tax revaluation. Conservatives voted against (Lords Hansard, 17 July 2003, Cols. 976-80).

    – Liberal Democrat MPs voted with Labour to ratify the new law which introduces the new bands and the rigged revaluation. Conservatives voted against (Hansard, 10 March 2003, Col. 126).