What do council tax bands mean
Do you want to see changes to the way council tax is calculated?
Plans to revalue English homes for council tax, which were likely to mean big rises in household council tax bills, have been postponed until after the next election, the government has announced.
It has been 14 years since the last valuation and property prices have risen sharply since, particularly in London.
Some senior ministers previously expressed concerned that it would be politically damaging for the government to revalue council tax before a full review of local government finance was completed.
What do you think of the postponing of the revaluation? Should the council tax be replaced with a different system of local government funding?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views received:
Roy Gilbert, Solihull, England
Why not return to the "poll tax"? It was fair, based on user consumption of services. Why should one living alone pay the same as a family of 5 next door? Problem is we have become a hand-out society where few take responsibility for their own destiny.
Roy Gilbert, Solihull, England
The value of my property has gone up 60% over the last few years. However, I don't want sell, unless it is to leave this country (which the way things are going isn't a bad idea). Why should council tax be raised when the services we are actually getting have gone backwards?
Council tax is unfair as it is paid for by a limited proportion of the population but all members of society draw on local authority services. All members of society should, therefore, contribute. The first thing to do is strip out all excess local authority costs and then put the balance on VAT so that everyone pays. There is no point in revaluation if the whole thing needs to change from the roots.
Barrie Saunders, Perth, Scotland
Council tax penalises the low waged and retired. The poll tax looks like a fairer system but we rather sunk that one some time ago. A local income tax would be fairer but I can only imagine the chaos of collecting it.
David Mudie, Edinburgh, Scotland
No, I strongly object to paying council tax particularly when it increases by more than inflation every year and local services continue to deteriorate. Local income tax would appear to be a fairer system and not regressive as the council tax certainly is.
David Mudie, Edinburgh, Scotland
Do any of you actually know how the council tax is worked out? I work for the valuation office which has been working on this revaluation, and what we have been trying to do is increase the number of bands, and adjust the bottom and top range. It's not a case of, your house has increased Ј100,000 in value, so will become a band G from C.
There was a lot to be said for the poll tax. As it is, I pay the same as the four adults who live next door to me - in what way is this fair?
Jan, Guildford, UK
If council tax is going to increase because the value of housing has gone up, then does it mean that the tax will decrease if the value of property goes down?
I find it deeply offensive that consideration is being given to shelving the revaluation in England. We have to cope with the increase this year in Wales (my property went up one band). Whilst I am, naturally, unhappy to pay this extra amount the new valuation is at least realistic and I can see that it is in the correct band. Clearly one rule for England and stuff the rest of us.
John, Mold, Wales
Council tax is unfair as much of the cost is to pay for schools and other children-focused services, leaving very little for other sectors such as the old or disabled. Parents should pay more for the services they use; singletons should not have to pay for the services used by a two wage income family.
J Huston, London
Council taxes should not be based on either the present valuation or revalued property - prices have soared in London (and elsewhere), however, those on small or fixed incomes and pensions have not the ability to pay the increasingly higher taxes. The increased value is only of consequence if you wish to sell property - most of us wish to remain in our homes but are increasing. Most of us do not wish to sell our properties and are, therefore, put in untenable situations. London already bears the brunt of increased taxes to cover many costs we feel unfair - ie funding the Olympics. Property should not be revalued for council tax purposes, such tax should be based on income levels and ability to pay.
J Huston, London
Everyone moaned when the poll tax was introduced and so now we have this grossly unfair system in place. The poll tax would have been fairer on nearly everyone! Bring it back, ASAP!
Steve, Warrington, Cheshire
Local income tax doesn't work in poorer areas. To "tax the rich" is fine, but when there are no rich people here, then what? We pay a fortune in childcare each month, and if we had to shoulder everyone else's tax burden too, it would bankrupt us. I do agree that living in the same house for 20 years shouldn't mean you now pay through the nose though. They need a fairer system, but don't just tax people for the hell of it.
Why should the council see fit to get its cut of my property's rise in value? Did the council install double-glazing or retile the bathroom? Have local services improved by the 59% in the last 5 years, commensurate with the council tax increases already in place? Did the council ever offer to help with the high debt I've incurred just buying the place? Would the council make any serious offer of alternative accommodation had I applied for a council flat?
Robin Tudge, London
We have less disposable income than ever before but the value of our house has gone up. Why should we sell up to buy a house with a cheaper banding just so that we can afford the council tax when the services we receive from the Council will remain exactly the same?
Some of you have this situation very twisted, the value of my house went up by over 400% between 1995 and 2004 but I do not earn any extra! How can it be fair for me to pay a council tax based on my property value? Especially since the council don't actually do anything for me except empty my bin (before you say it, I pay other taxes in order to use roads, etc).
Rob, Corby, England
Bring back income tax, its not our fault that our house is worth now double we paid for it, the streets are still litter-strewn and that's after the bin men have been and left the bins all over the street, there is still crime everywhere and no bobby on the beat (only wardens with no real powers) and my son has just asked me to buy text books for school! I have no confidence in this government whatsoever, they have done nothing to get me to vote for them.
H of Manchester, Manchester, UK
Any further rise in council tax will force me to sell my home. But never mind, I can sit on the council waiting list for a couple of years, and then get a council house. Then I will be able to afford a new car and satellite television, which everyone on the local council estate can afford (but I can't).
Nigel Macdonald, Camborne, UK
If you don't want to pay more council tax, would you accept paying more income tax or VAT? We want more, but don't want to pay for it? What is wrong with a wealth tax anyway, which other countries have? Or do you want the American system of health: show your credit card as you go to hospital?
Council tax is for council services. The council should be providing equal services for all. Consequently, each person should pay an equal share of the council budget, it's the only fair way.
Richard Mellor, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
J. Thompson, Arundel, West Sussex
Why call it council tax? Doesn't it provide services that we as a nation should expect irrespective of where we live? If central government have abdicated responsibility for the basic services of life, cut their salaries and expenses. It's just another example of spreading the cost to spread the blame!
J. Thompson, Arundel, West Sussex
Why should local tax be based on "ability to pay?" Supermarkets don't sell you food priced according to your income. The power companies don't make the rich pay more for their electricity. Everyone gets roughly the same value of rubbish collection and local services so everyone should pay roughly the same. Anything else just further penalises those who actually work for a living.
The council tax has always been a joke and in many instances unfair. I live in a mid terrace 3 bedroom house and am in Band E for valuation and council tax. My friend, who live less than 400 yards from me has a 4 bedroomed semi and is also in Band E. The whole system needs a careful revamp and possibly dumping for a fairer system -perhaps a local income tax as has been suggested. Means to pay seems a reasonable possibility particularly as rises in local taxes far outstrip income increases of the elderly.
Alan Glenister, Bushey, UK
I'm not sure that ability to pay should be the basis of council tax. The plumber doesn't vary his charges according to your wealth, therefore nor should the dustman. Education and social services should be centrally funded as this is national policy; roads and local services (such as waste collection) should be funded from the council tax against manifesto pledges. Revaluation would be an unfair basis for funding any part of local government because the inevitable rate hike would merely serve to reduce the amount hitherto given by central government. So the revaluation would amount to another stealth tax.
D. Ball, Wokingham, UK
Andy Millward, Broxbourne, UK
The purpose of revaluation is to enable the relative differentials between council taxes to be set appropriate to property values, not to invent a reason for raising council tax for all. Whatever its faults, this is a cheap and efficient tax to collect, is fairer and more progressive than a poll tax, and is not blighted by evasion to anything like the extent that local income tax would be. Keep it - the alternatives are worse.
Andy Millward, Broxbourne, UK
I live in the countryside. People who live in rural communities pay the same council tax as people who live in towns but we get far fewer services for our money. The system is just not fair and needs a radical re-think - local income tax strikes me as being a good way to go.
Ian Shields, Holme-on-Spalding Moor
No tax "revaluation" ever took place with a view to reducing the financial outcome. Western governments, with the exception of the USA, have got used to the idea that the civil service and its incumbent bureaucracy are a right. Well, how wrong they are because I sense a "ground swell" of opinion that regards this ever-expanding taxation as robbery. It is time to wind taxation back and put money back into the pockets of the people who work so hard to get it in the first place.
Tim Rollinson, Tonbridge, UK
There's one aspect of the Council Tax that I cannot understand: where is the logical relationship between the extent of services that householders use and the size of the houses they live in? If we had a simple system whereby you paid for those services you use, pro rata, then surely this would be a far fairer method of raising the necessary income?
Alan Hall, Evesham, UK
When they retired my parents purchased a three bed bungalow by the coast. Now, thanks to holiday homes, the house has increased drastically in price, however their pension has not. Why should their council tax band be
increase by two or three levels due to second homes who do not pay full council tax?
Christina Spybey, London, UK
I don't know why we have to pay council tax. My council is not doing anything for my area. It took my council almost a month to take action against a dangerously parked truck on my street, two years and still counting on to solve their property which caused destruction to my property and many more to complain. Before we pay any higher council taxes, the council should prove they are worth what we are paying for, otherwise we should have a refund for what we had paid so far.
Christina Spybey, London, UK
Just another Labour stealth tax. The value of houses is unimportant. It's their relative value that matters in determining who pays what. So why bother - except it's another way of justifying a tax rise.
Council tax covers services which are the same per person regardless of the size of the house. Electric, gas, water or phone bills are based on a person's use. Hence the same should apply to council tax, bring back the poll tax.
Any benefit from increased property values is a paper one only, so I believe that it is wrong to raise Council taxes until the owner/occupier actually sells the property and gains monetarily. However, second homes or investment properties might be exempted from this rule and in so doing might help to halt property speculation and property inflation.
Pat van der Veer, Wallasey, near Liverpool, U.K.
I cannot see why council tax is based on the value of your home. It should be based on the individual's ability to pay. Some houses contain four high earners while next door just two pensioners. They both pay the same amount. This is grossly unfair. Bring back the poll tax.
David Brown, Colchester England
Chris Stevens, London, UK
The poll tax was opposed by those people who did not already share the burden of paying for local government. Please bring it back. The current council tax is entirely arbitrary and often misses those who could afford to pay. Every year for the past seven years the rises in council tax have been above inflation. That is totally unjustifiable. The revaluation just worsens the situation. The higher value of the house is meaningless unless you intend to sell it. I've live in the same place for 23 years. Are the council saying that I have to sell up so that I can afford their uncontrolled higher taxes?
Chris Stevens, London, UK
Margaret Thatcher tried to rein in local government spending during her third term and failed due to the disastrous implementation of the poll tax. But at least she tried. Since then local government expenditure has spiralled out of control with nothing done by central government to introduce sound fiscal management. You wouldn't let you bank manager mismanage your funds, so why should we put up with it from our local authorities?
Eccles, Bristol UK
Just because homes may have increased in value does not mean that people have more cash in their pockets. For many years people have suffered annual council tax bills which are far above annual inflation and income rises. If home owners fail to pay these ever increasing extortionate demands for more money they will receive menacing threats of bailiffs and jail. If council tax bills were linked by law to the annual rate of inflation then people may tolerate them, but at the moment there is increasing resentment and resistance to tax increases which appear to be out of control.
George, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
It may have caused riots but the poll tax is fairer than the present arbitrary 'value of property' system. At least it takes into account the number of 'users' of local facilities in any one household.
Paul B, Oxford
My council is great! They have increased council tax by one of the greatest amounts in London and at the same time they have announced a huge cut in services - no bin liners (we have to provide our own), they've stopped cleaning the street, they are selling off council land despite local protestations, the high street has seen such huge increases in business taxes many businesses are forced to pack up! But to be fair to the staff at the local office - most are miserable and rude. It's great living here!
Moving properties between bands is not fair if this is purely because the value of the house has increased. The housing market has gone ballistic in the last few years and this isn't the fault of the home owners. The whole system of taxation in this country needs reviewing and simplifying. But of course no government will ever admit to that!
The government seem to presume that everyone owns their houses so the costs are relative to what they own. This is ignorance at the highest level. We rent our flat, but because the building is in a popular area, we are expected to pay high council tax. We rent because our combined income isn't high enough to afford a mortgage, so why are we being charged as if we have a choice! When they do revaluate we'll be forced to move.
I pay almost Ј140 a month for filthy streets, a complete lack of parking, holes in the road and a stupid 'millennium tower' that still hasn't opened. I think council tax should be based on your local councils success in fulfilling its obligations to the local population. That means not wasting it on a stupid tower that nobody wanted in the first place.
Peter Jackson, Portsmouth, UK
Council Tax seems like a method by which the rich/poor divide is increased. The tax is increasing and thus the pressure is being put on to drive the poor and middle band out of high value property so that only the rich can afford them. It would seem fairer to tax people on income and savings. Our government wastes finances, it's all about control rather than economics to me.
Andrew, Accrington, UK
Council tax is inherently unfair in that it is not based on use of services but an assessment of wealth. This assessment is however quite arbitrary and intrinsically flawed, it does not reflect what the current owner paid for the property but instead uses a quite bland valuation formula. The revaluation will be unfair, because the system upon which it is based is unfair. It does seem much more sensible to have a system which is income based, but after the poll tax debacle it does seem unlikely that any government would be brave enough to attempt to change the system.
Paul Philupson, N Wales
This revaluation is nothing more than a money raising exercise for the councils. We have just completed revaluation in Wales and it is a disgrace the way councils have increased bills to hardworking families here and official complaints procedure is an absolute joke. By next year my bill will have almost doubled from 2004 - no surprise then that Labour were voted out here in Denbighshire in the general election. This will leave a very big discrepancy between the council tax levels in England and Wales - I would like to know how the government will address this?
The current system is grossly unfair. The services provided by the local authority have no connection with the value of the building in which you live. Why, for example, should my two adult sons, who live at home and have more disposable income than I have, not be liable to pay a local tax? They probably have more call on the local services than I do.
Stephen Turner, Beverley
Council tax is charged according to the band your property is in. The relative value, for council tax purposes, of our homes should not have changed. The value of the housing market has risen. Not our relative position on it. Yet more government stealth taxation. Even Dick Turpin wore a cape!
Stephen Turner, Beverley, East Yorkshire
Bring back poll tax its 10 times better than this!
William Rutter, Abergavenny
Linking Council Tax to the 'assumed' value of one's home is intellectually flawed. It assumes the owner wants to sell. The revaluation exercise, as has been shown in Wales is yet another 'stealth tax' A fairer system can be devised, based on the ability to pay.
So if house prices had fallen over the last 14 years we'd be getting lower bills would we? The value of a house is irrelevant as the original valuation was just a mechanism to work out which house went in which band. Any re-valuation would have to proportionately re-value the bands, which renders the whole exercise pointless. This re-valuation is just a way of taxing people's capital at the top of the market.
I think a fair system would be to assess the council tax band by the square footage of the property - large properties will get higher taxes, small properties will get lower taxes. Doing the assessment by value is highly unfair to people who are living in expensive areas - most likely because they don't have a choice because of work. However in the end I think that council tax should be dropped and a scheme that is based upon household income and assets should be used in its stead.
Graham, Cambridge, UK
Those with larger houses and larger families should pay a lot more than those with smaller houses. The more people in a house, the more local services they use. Those with a larger house can obviously afford to pay more.
The council tax is unwieldy, unfair and costs a lot of money to run. Additionally, there is the added cost of periodic revaluations and these revaluations are themselves nonsense. The only fair system is an income tax with added concessions given to pensioners. I write this as someone who is 27 years old.
Thomas Macaulay, Lavenham, Suffolk
Pat Leclerc, Hayling Island
I don't think families that have made sacrifices to have a nice large house, should pay more than smaller property owners that have decided to holiday more, maybe smoke and drink rather than own a larger house. We both use the same services no more, no less.
The liberal democrats had a fairer suggestion for a local income tax instead of council tax. That way you would be taxed according to what you earn rather than what your home is worth. I don't know why the government hasn't cottoned on to this idea. Maybe they're afraid of alienating the rich?
Mike, Preston Lancs
I have no problem with revaluation, but the councils should have to prove that the exercise has not been a tool to raise more cash. My council tax has gone up 49% in 3 years and I have received nothing in return. When I wrote and asked why the increase they told me that the councils employee's pension scheme had a deficit and part of the increase was to plug this gap. The private company I work for sent me a letter last month and said my pension had a deficit so they would be taking an extra 2% from my wages!
Mike, Preston Lancs
Having houses revalued for council tax purposes will only be fair if the banding changes too, however I feel that this is just another way of Labour increasing the tax burden on the population without having to raise Income Tax
Yes, it certainly is. If house prices rise, peoples' spending seems to rise, hence this virtual income should be taxed but fairly. However, also the bandwidths should be relaxed and widened.
Jilles Edema, Aberdeen, UK
Council tax is supposed to be used, like all taxes, for the benefit of the tax payers. Unfortunately the council officials use a big portion for their personal benefits and as their personal needs increase they want the taxes to increase. Let the council show that they are properly accountable for the tax they already receive. Cut out the pleasure trips under the guise of 'official business'!
George McIntyre, Tandragee
Council tax is unfair because it is not earning related and therefore affects the poor and low paid disproportionately.
Steve Parker, Scunthorpe UK