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Council Tax

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

10. When he next expects a revaluation of domestic properties for council tax purposes to take place; and if he will make a statement. (284346)

Conventionally, one thanks a Minister for their answer, but may I say that it was very disappointing, especially for my constituents? They are increasingly puzzled and angry at a local tax system based on a 15-year-old valuation of their homes, which has no contact with current realities, equity or their ability to pay. Does the Minister and the Secretary of State not accept the urgent need for a new, fairer system based on the ability to pay, which would allow local councils to deliver good services at a fair cost?

I suspect that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the local income tax, which Michael Lyons looked at but did not recommend for a whole host of reasons, including the risk of substantial increases for the working population, the cost burden on employers and the particular impact on small businesses. Yet again, that is an example of a Lib Dem policy that, while professing to do one thing, has quite the opposite effect.

In advance of any major revaluation, will my right hon. Friend consider encouraging local authorities that want to offer council tax discounts for householders and businesses that have introduced energy-efficiency measures and microgeneration? In one fell swoop, that would deal more quickly with the problems of climate change than anything else that could be done.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is consulting on powers for local authorities, particularly with regard to low-carbon strategies. A number of local authorities are also innovatively considering, during these difficult economic times, how they can link energy-efficiency measures with stimulating the local economy and employing local people. That is exactly the sort of interventionist approach that we think is correct.