Axe the Tax
Axe the Tax
The question must be asked of us as politicians is 'What are we fighting for?' What is it that puts our careers on the line, and our beliefs in the spotlight?
Well, for me, the belief that a fairer, freer and more open society will lead to benefits for us all, keeps me going. The idea that by highlighting injustices, and promoting cooperation we can help everyone to lead happier and more fulfilling lives, is one that keeps me awake sometimes at night.
More importantly, I see that very injustice in the Torridge area. Having been born and brought up hear, I can see the way in which successive Government's policies have succeeded only in keeping the area down. Successive changes to taxation and the way in which local tax is raised, have been progressively reducing the available income to Torridge residents.
I will illustrate this through the issue of Income Tax. Various Government's have trumpeted the reduction of income tax rates, but for Torridge, which is a very low paid area, reducing income tax rates often provides little benefits. If you only earn £10,000 a year, a penny off income tax makes little difference. The way to help low wage areas is to increase the level at which tax kicks in, giving more money back to local economies with low wages.
The same is true for Council Tax. Although the level of tax is similar to areas in places like the Midlands and South-east, the actual impacts on households is much more severe. If you only earn £20,000 as a family per year, a £1500 Council Tax bill is quite a chunk of your earnings!
So how to we change this? Well, we must continue to bang the table for fairer deal from Government for our area. It has also been mentioned that we need to encourage people to apply for benefits where they are due – this will help to bring money into the local economy.
Perhaps most importantly, we can actively drive forward our own economy, through lifting the aspirations of young people, encouraging people with skills into the area, and providing education and employment opportunities for local people. We must support the redevelopment of Bideford College, so that it provides good practical and academic opportunities. I have a vision that Torridge will also one day have a University here – one which champions the strengths of our area: farming, marine biology, renewable energy, sustainable tourism. Now that is something to aspire to!
Local Income Tax is the Way Forward
Local funding review considers local income tax - and endorses the Lib Dems Campaign!
A report, written by CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accounting) and being considered by the Balance of Funding Review, reinforces the Lib Dems’ proposal to replace the Council Tax with a local income tax. They agree that:
Local Liberal Democrats have been leading a nation-wide campaign for the replacement of Council Tax with fairer system, related to ‘ability to pay’, since last October; and West Devon Borough Councillors placed a motion before the Council to this effect. Signatures to the ‘Axe the Tax’ petition are still being collected, and a local deputation will travel to Westminster later in the year to meet with other deputations from around the country to present the petition.
Cllr Clarke, Liberal Democrat member of the Balance of Funding Review, said, “We must move to a system of local taxation that asks people to pay what they can afford to pay and no more. A local income tax would achieve that. Council tax costs poorer people four or five times as much as a proportion of their income as it does richer people and that cannot be right.”
“This independent report by CIPFA confirms what we have been saying, that local income tax would bring fairness into the system of paying for local services and also allow a huge reduction in collection costs. With the benefit of this independent assessment, now is the time for our proposal to be taken seriously.”
Jane Waterhouse, Financial Spokesperson for the WDBC LibDem Group, said, “I really welcome this report, which endorses what we have been campaigning for. The situation in West Devon is particularly dire, with our high proportion of low paid and retired people. They deserve a fairer deal from our government - and we will fight to achieve it!”
The Balance of Funding Review is Chaired by Minister Nick Raynsford.
It was commissioned to address public outrage at the fact that Council Tax has become an unacceptable burden to many people, having risen by more than 70% since 1997.
The cross-party Local Government Association argued for the option of a local income tax to be properly studied by the Review. CIPFA were therefore commissioned by the Review to do research and write a paper.
For more information see the Liberal Democrats Axe the Tax website.