Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by the Public and Commercial Services Union (DWB 21)

  PCS made a detailed submission to the Local Government Green Paper detailing our concerns about council tax and in particular council tax revaluation (copy attached).[22]

  In our Green Paper submission we noted; "the benefits of revaluation of domestic properties are not confined merely to the efficiency of the council tax" and we went on to outline the benefits of linking water charging with a rebanding of the council tax.

  With this point in mind we have restricted our comments to Clause 27 of the draft Bill, referring to the "Objectives and duties under the Water Industry Act 1991" as we see our proposals as being in the best "interests of the consumers".

Linking Water Charges to Council Tax Bands

  PCS believes the linking of water charging with council tax bands can provide a fair and progressive charging system which is consistent with government policies on the environment and its advocacy of social justice. This would also reinforce the economic dynamics of introducing a preference system for the public of water metering or council tax based charging.

  PCS commissioned research[23] on the advantages of linking water charging to council tax bands. The research established;

    —  current charges for unmetered water usage is based upon rateable values which are 30 years out of date;

    —  the majority of the population will not be using water meters for at least 25 years, which further strains the credibility of current charging arrangements;

    —  the highest relative proportion of charges to income falls upon low income families with children, who effectively subsidies high income, low water users who opt for metering; and

    —  the credibility of the current charging system is increasingly in question and requires replacement by a mechanism which will carry public confidence.

  PCS believes that our proposals are consistent with the policy of joined up government. They also capitalise upon the Valuation Office Agency's ability to play a pivotal role in the provision of an up to date, credible and respected database which would support water meter charging. Moreover it would allow future governments to utilise this machinery as a potential base for other utility charges.

  Both draft Water Bill and the Local Government Finance Green Paper present the ideal opportunity to address these matters in a co-ordinated and consistent way, as part of the government's policy and approach to fair and progressive taxation.

January 2001

22   Not printed. Back

23   Edited by Palmer, G "Water Charging and Social Justice-Why politicians must act" (New Policy Institute 2000). Back

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