Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 380-388)


11 MAY 2004

  Q380 Chairman: You are obviously arguing that you want changes very quickly.

  Ms Melsom: Yes.

  Q381 Chairman: But it is very unlikely that legislation can get through that quickly. What about the revaluation in 2007? You obviously do not want the revaluation but if you have to have a revaluation do you want extra bands put into it or do you want the bands to stay as they are?

  Mr Jaye: As far as Dorset is concerned, having spoken to the leader of Dorset County Council last evening, if you want to increase the bands, provided the equalisation fund remains the same, that is okay, but what happens with the banding in the north west of England if that does not go up the same two bands? It will mean horrendous cost to the council taxpayer in Dorset. What you all overlook, all politicians, whether you be Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Labour, Green Party, is the hardship you are all causing with this council tax. I come from Dorset. Within Dorset, I have pensioners of 70, 72, even as old as 75 returning to work because they are so proud that they do not want to claim this fictitious, unworthy council tax benefit. Have any of you sat down and looked at a council tax form for benefit? It is 22 pages.

  Q382 Chairman: Let us assume that it was reduced in length so it was a much shorter form, much more like income tax. Would people be happy to fill it in?

  Mr Jaye: No.

  Ms Melsom: No.

  Q383 Chairman: People are prepared to fill in forms for income tax but they are not prepared to fill in forms to reduce the amount they pay.

  Ms Melsom: What we must remember with a lot of very elderly people especially is that very few of them do fill in those forms. When it comes to the council tax benefit form, somebody else invariably has to fill it in for them. A lot of elderly people resent that intrusion.

  Q384 Chairman: Yes, but if we were moving from the council tax to a system of extra being paid on income tax, there would be a logic, would there not, in the levels at which people had to start paying the income tax being lowered so that some of those people who were now exempt would make some contribution, would they not?

  Ms Melsom: It would be very few.

  Q385 Mr O'Brien: You refer to a fair taxing system and in your document you advise how that would come about, by raising certain bands of income tax. Nowhere in the document do you refer to the contribution made by business or industry. Why is that?

  Mr Schofield: Business and industry use the services, just like every council tax payer.

  Q386 Mr O'Brien: Why are you saying that the only people who should meet this cost are the individual earners and nowhere in the document do you refer to business or industry making a contribution?

  Mr Schofield: We are just ordinary citizens. We are not in business.

  Q387 Mr O'Brien: But you want to change the system.

  Mr Schofield: Yes, but we defer to the CBI and people who are more—

  Mr Webb: Business tax is just another tax.

  Mr O'Brien: Should it not play a part in funding local services?

  Q388 Chairman: As far as local services are concerned, you would keep their system from business as it is now. Is that right?

  Ms Melsom: Yes.

  Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very much indeed for your evidence?

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