• Seven in ten (69%) MPs believe that additional higher-rate council tax bands are a better way to reform annual property taxes on high-value homes than a mansion tax;
• Two-fifths of Labour MPs favour additional council tax bands over a mansion tax;
• Three-quarters (75%) of MPs agree with the need for a revaluation of council tax.
The British Property Federation (BPF) has released the results of a poll commissioned from ComRes revealing that the majority (69%) of MPs believe additional higher-rate council tax bands would be a better way to reform annual property taxes on high-value homes than introducing a mansion tax.
The poll shows that two-fifths (39%) of Labour Party’s MPs favour additional higher-rate council tax bands over a mansion tax, despite the party championing the tax as one of its flagship policies ahead of the General Election. Just over half (56%) thought a mansion tax would be preferable.
The majority (89%) of the Liberal Democrat MPs surveyed also prefer additional council tax bands to a mansion tax, as do 92% Conservative MPs. The Liberal Democrats first mooted the idea of the policy in 2012.
Asked separately whether they would support a revaluation of all homes to update council tax, 75% of MPs agreed. Support is strongest amongst Labour MPs at 87%, compared to 64% of Conservative MPs. It seems that this is a priority issue for MPs, with the majority (53%) of those who would like to see reform preferring revaluation during the next parliament.
The BPF has long made the case for council tax reform, pointing out that the 24-year-old tax is still calculated on house prices in 1991. Since then, house price inflation has varied significantly, ranging from 160% to over 400% across England’s regions. It has urged policymakers to consider council tax revaluation and the addition of more council tax bands as a fairer and more efficient alternative to the mansion tax, which would be unfairly concentrated in London and could act as a deterrent to investment in the UK’s built environment.
A council tax revaluation would be very easy to implement in the next Parliament because there is already legislative provision for it in the Local Government Act 2003. It would also accord with the advice of the Lyons Inquiry (www.lyonsinquiry.org.uk/) to Labour in 2007, which amongst its recommendations, suggested that a future Government should revalue council tax and add new council tax bands, in order to update the tax base and improve fairness for taxpayers.
The poll was carried out among 150 current MPs. This was undertaken during the period 25th November – 19th December 2014, before recent announcements on the policy made by the Scottish Labour Leader, by self-completion postal questionnaire and online survey. Data were weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Commons by party and region.
Commenting on the results, Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at the British Property Federation, said:
“This poll shows that a full council tax revaluation rightly commands widespread political support, particularly across the Labour party, and that the majority of MPs recognise that basing council tax on 1991 house prices is simply unsustainable.
“The mansion tax is a political gimmick that is more about the narrative of rich vs the rest than anything else. Reforming council tax through a revaluation and raising revenue through adding more council tax bands would restore fairness to the council tax system and be better for the country as a whole.
“It is particularly striking to see the level of support from MPs for reform across the Labour and Liberal parties, and that a number prefer it to a mansion tax. From the results of this poll the mandate for a mansion tax is very weak, even amongst those parties that have pushed it, and the right course of action would be to reform council tax.”