This article first appeared in the Metro on April 5th 2021, written by our founder, Andrew Dixon. 

When voters go to the polls in the local elections next month, many will do so in the wake of their council tax bills rising up like never before.

Despite unemployment surging due to coronavirus, a majority of councils are preparing to bump bills up by an unprecedented 5%, inflicting maximum pain on millions of already hard-pressed households.

So why are our leading politicians not going into the local elections with a viable plan to turn the situation around?

As our primary residential property tax, council tax is clearly not fit for purpose. It is based on property valuations from 30 years ago, dating back to just before Nirvana released their breakthrough album Nevermind and Tim Berners-Lee released files describing his idea for the World Wide Web.

It is a terrible, regressive tax that hits renters saving up for a deposit just as hard as those who have made it onto the property ladder. Council tax also ensures that people who live in more modest houses and areas end up paying a higher tax rate than those living in wealthier areas and more valuable properties.

The Fairer Share campaign that I chair recently heard from a lady in Birmingham who works four cleaning jobs. She and her husband live in a three-bed semi-detached house. They pay £129 a month in council tax and struggle with the costs.

We have also heard from a retired Army officer in the north east. After his divorce, he couldn’t afford to move into a house so he lives in a private caravan site with minimal public services. He still pays £92 a month in council tax.

Another of our northern supporters currently pays £2,328 a year for a band D property, which is valued at around £180,000. Meanwhile, on Zoopla she can see a band H £9.8million six-bedroom detached house in London pays just £1,560 each year in council tax.

For any politician going into the local elections, there are surely votes to be won from backing reform of this ridiculously unfair tax. Yet too many politicians are sitting on the sidelines of the debate, hitting out at council tax rises without offering up a convincing alternative source of revenue for cash-strapped local authorities.

“Across England around 76% of households would benefit under a proportional property tax, with households paying £435 less property tax a year on average.”

In much of the country, it is a different story. More than 115,000 people have signed the Fairer Share petition calling for council tax and stamp duty to be replaced with a simple proportional property tax set at a flat rate of 0.48% of a property’s value.

There are also growing signs of support in the House of Commons. A number of MPs from both parties are now backing the plan, with our research showing that the tax generated would maintain the amount that the Government can put towards our services – while simultaneously leading to lower bills for millions of people.

Across England around 76% of households would benefit under a proportional property tax, with households paying £435 less property tax a year on average.

There are 78 constituencies where over 99% of households would benefit from moving to a proportional property tax. Many of these are in the north of England and the midlands but there are also plenty of southern seats that would benefit from the change.

While renters would pay nothing, some homeowners in London may see a small increase in their annual bills, reflecting the extreme rise in house prices over the past 30 years.

However, we know that it would be unfair to create ‘losers’ on day one of the policy being implemented. Instead, our campaign is proposing a cap on the increases in tax of £100 per month, not far off the price of a daily cup of coffee.

If our politicians are not brave enough to introduce a proportional property tax then the alternative is sticking with the current broken system.

Andrew Dixon

Chairman & Founder

Fairer Share