I’ve just read in the thisismoney.co.uk that ‘details of every garden in England have been put on a database by Government officials’ so that they can ‘use the information to justify increased council tax bills after the election’.
This work to assess gardens will no doubt be used by Gordon Brown, should he be back in No 10 tomorrow, as part of his proposed garden tax.
You may have seen in our recent MoneyHighStreet article on ‘Are you overpaying on your council tax?‘, we picked up on the fact that the council tax is a General Election ‘hot potato’ – it might not be in all the headlines but it’s a significant issue that will be addressed quite differently depending on who forms the new Government:
- Labour plans to revise the whole banding system and will include such as patios and conservatories in valuations.
- The Conservatives plan to freeze the council tax for 2 years.
- The Liberal Democrats plan to scrap the tax altogether and replace it with a ‘fair local tax’
It seems that the information being gathered by the Geographical Information System (GIS) will include details such as whether the house driveway is shared and the size of side passages at end-of-terrace houses. It will also include details on whether the house has a good view, such as a golf course or a lake. All details which could be used to increase the council tax levy.
At a cost of £3.4 million though, according to the thisismoney.co.uk article, is this really justified? Particularly at this time when we have such a deficit to deal with which economists are warning is about to become worse than that of Greece – our deficit is now forecast to be almost twice the European average.
Apart from the cost (and whether it’s the best approach to use for setting the council tax, but that’s another question!) personally I think the extent of snooping now, whether it’s by people using such as Google maps to check out roads and houses or the Government spying on gardens, is getting more and more like Big Brother, it’s really quite worrying. Am I alone?