Labour councils responded to a government consultation paper on how to save council tax money by arguing that the single person 25% discount should be abolished.
The government target it seems was to save councils 10% of the cost of the discount. (or should we say, allow councils to raise an extra 10% in the value of the discount?)
As the Express reports this would push the annual bill for a single person living in a band D property by about Â£360. The 25% discount has been in place since council tax began in 1993.
According to the Express ‘scores’ of submissions supporting this line were made by Labour run councils including “…Luton, Doncaster, Bedford, Colchester, Burnley, South Tyneside, Exeter, Sheffield and Oxford councils as well as the London boroughs of Islington, Hounslow, Brent, Harrow and Newham”.
Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary has condemned this as a ‘widow’s tax’.
“There is clearly a well-orchestrated campaign being run by the Labour Party to target the elderly, single mothers and the most vulnerable. They want to punish people who have worked hard all their lives and paid their taxes simply because they live on their own. There is a gross sense of injustice at raising taxes that could force people out of their homes. This is a widow’s tax and shows how out of touch Labour is.” He said.
From the quotes from the council submissions supplied though it seems that the Labour councils were arguing that the 25% discount should be means tested, not withdrawn as a blanket move to affect rich and poor alike. Not something that the Express editorial would have you to believe though.
But we should also look on this with our ‘green’ hat on. Which is better for the environment and energy saving; one person in a house, or many? So which should be taxed higher on that basis?
But, at the end of the day, even removing the discount from all single occupiers would once again just be tinkering around the edges of a massive, unwieldy and unfair tax system.