THE annual budgets of the Harborough District Council and other authorities, for 2009-2010, will soon be in the post. There will always be differences of opinion on the times that are included but I believe most people would accept that overall the community is well served in this county.
There is, however, one aspect of council tax which is grossly unfair and that is that the councils are required by the Government to demand payment based on the hypothetical capital value of a house, paying no consideration to the number of persons using the local services, living in that house. This is the ‘banding system’.
To illustrate the effect of this, if we think of neighbours occupying two identical houses rates in tax band F, one house has single occupancy and the other four adult wage earners, the assessment for each house for 2008-9 is 2,050. The cost for the single occupant is reduced by 25 per cent, so he pays 1,537.
The assessment for his neighbour is 2,050 but the benefit each occupant receives is one quarter of this sum, 512. Difference 1,025.
The imbalance in the above example also applies in various degrees to all tax bands and also to the number of persons occupying the house.
This is further exacerbated by the probability that many single occupancies are held by persons on low incomes (eg senior citizens) and who may also be making less use of facilities provided.
Harborough Council’s Guide to Council Tax tells me that the average cost for persons living in the district is 73 but my rate demand asks me to pay 290!
Many great minds have tried to solve the fairest and most efficient way of charging for council services, but as an interim measure, until a Government can devise a fairer and a more cost effective basis, I would like to suggest that the easiest way in the short term of reaching a degree of fairness would be to increase the discount to all single occupants to 50 per cent.
K H Williams,
Alvington Way, Harborough.