Ruffley still questions Government climb down on Council Tax

Tuesday, 20 September, 2005

Bury St Edmunds MP, David Ruffley, will still be questioning the Government on its claim that it will postpone the Council Tax revaluation.

David Ruffley campaigned vigorously at the May general election for a total scrapping, not just a postponement, of the Council Tax revaluation.

The revaluation would have seen one million households pushed up two or more Council Tax bands in addition to moving six million up one band.

David Miliband, the local government minister, has asked Sir Michael Lyons to look at the revaluation as part of his independent inquiry into local government funding.

David said:

'I campaigned against the revaluation at the general election because it was set to cost the average Suffolk householder an extra £250 a year in Council Tax.

'The Government's announcement today only delays the revaluation it does not promise to scrap it. That means the threat of higher council tax is still hanging over my constituents' heads.

'I will press them to move further and not just delay the revaluation until after the Lyons inquiry but to scrap it completely.'

Notes to Editors:

• At the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill 2003 which legislated for revaluation in both England and Wales, the Labour Government pledged, 'revaluation will not lead to increases in the council tax yield' (Hansard, 7 January 2003, Col. 53). But this year in Wales, two years ahead of England, one in three homes have moved up a council tax band and the tax revenues have risen by 10 per cent.

• The full scope of the revaluation tax hikes is still to come. The impact was reduced by 'transitional relief' which phases in the rises for homes moving up more than one band. Many homes will move up further bands over the next three years.

• If the revaluation experience is repeated in England then 6.2 million homes will see a typical rise of £267 a year every year. A further 920,000 homes will face a £534 a year two-band rise, 110,000 homes a £813 a year three-band rise and 27,000 homes a £1,214 a year four-band rise.

Liberal Democrats claim they oppose the revaluation, yet they have repeatedly supported it:

• Liberal Democrat peers voted with Labour in the House of Lords 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 new bands and the rigged revaluation. Conservatives voted against (Hansard, 10 March 2003, Col. 126).

• It was a Lib-Lab administration in Wales that initiated the detailed work into council tax revaluation in Wales, and introduced higher council tax banding (Band 'I')