I got my Council Tax bill today. £2253.70, if you please - an increase of 4% on last year. Another sign of household bills outstripping the official inflation rate. When Labour came to power, the same bill would have been half that size. That's ten years of Labour for you. Ok, so I live in a larger than average house and earn more than average too, but I'm struggling to think what I get for my Council Tax beyond a fortnightly rubbish collection and a Police Service which thinks seven hours to come out after a burglary is quite acceptable. But the one thing which I really struggle with is the precept for Kent Fire Authority, which has risen by 3.5%. In the leaflet accompanying the bill we are told that the total number of fires attended has gone down from 62 per 10,000 people to 44.6. Accidental fires have gone down from 12.9 to 12.4. Deliberate fires have reduced from 41.3 per 10,000 to 27.6. And the number of road accidents has gone down from 8.3 to 7.5. Now any reasonable person might think that the cost of running the service would have been cut too, assuming a broadly similar population. Not a bit of it.
If you live in a Band D house your bill would be £1,378. This level of local taxation is almost getting to the point when people just won't be able to cope. In the end, all taxation is paid with the consent of the people. We remember all too well what happened in 1990 when the people withdrew that consent. Politicians from all parties would do well to remember that. Council Tax reform is all too easily dumped in the "too difficult" tray. That is not a tenable long term position. If you doubt me, look on the back of your own Council Tax Bill. It shows that your Council Tax is calculated on the basis of the value of your house in 1991. Nineteen Ninety One was seventeen years ago! According to their figures, my house was worth between £160,000 and £320,000 then. I won't tell you what it is worth now, but you can guess. No wonder Labour shied away from a revaluation just before the last election.
OK, so I have outlined the problem, what's the solution? I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Mine is called a Local Sales Tax. What's yours?