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Council Tax

Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research his Department has undertaken into the ability to pay of (a) pensioners and (b) low waged households in England in relation to the council tax. [108425]

We have not undertaken such research. However, council tax benefit, administered by the Department for Work and Pensions, is available to help low income households pay their council tax. Council tax benefit is paid to around 3.9 million households in England, of which around 2 million are pensioners.

In addition, central Government surveys collect some relevant information on an ongoing basis. The Expenditure and Food Survey, for example, collects information on the percentage of household income that is spent on local taxes, and information is available for each income decile.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average council tax as a percentage of the average (a) wage and (b) state pension in England was in each financial year since 1997. [108426]

The following table gives figures for the average council tax per dwelling (net of council tax benefit) as percentages of average gross earnings and of the full basic state pension for each year since 1997–98.It should be noted, however, that the figures given do not necessarily reflect the relative abilities of wage earners and pensioners to pay council tax. Gross earnings and basic state pension figures are not comparable as measures of income, and neither of them can be said to represent disposable income. Gross earnings figures are, for example, before tax and other deductions, whereas the basic state pension represents a relatively small proportion of the income received by many pensioners. Furthermore, it has been assumed, in the absence of precise information, that reductions in council tax as a result of council tax benefit are spread evenly across all council taxpayers, whereas it is likely that, in reality, pensioners are assisted by benefit to a greater extent than wage earners.

Average net council tax per dwelling as a percentage of average gross earnings1Average net council tax per dwelling as a percentage of full basic state pension2
2003–04Not available22.5
1Office for National Statistics—Average gross weekly earnings for all ages based on full-time employees whose pay was unaffected by absence (figures are for Great Britain).
2Department for Work and Pension—based on basic state pension for under-80s (Great Britain).

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to raise the level of council tax as a percentage of total revenue expenditure. [108750]

The Government have no such plans. Decisions on council tax levels are a matter for individual local authorities, after consulting their council tax payers.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the 10 district councils in England with the largest rise in council tax for this year. [108983]

The 10 English non-metropolitan district councils with the largest percentage increase in their own Band D council tax (excluding local precepts) between 2002–03 and 2003–04 are, in descending order:

  • Stratford-on-Avon
  • Weymouth & Portland
  • West Oxfordshire
  • Eastbourne
  • Fenland
  • Cherwell
  • Runnymede
  • Purbeck
  • Daventry
  • South Staffordshire