Council tax single person discount 'should be reviewed'

 
Binmen collecting rubbish Government rules say that councils must give a 25% discount for all homes with only one adult liable to pay council tax.

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Wealthy people living alone in large homes should lose their council tax discount to fund more help for poorer families, local authorities have said.

Households with just one adult get a 25% discount on council tax at present.

The Local Government Association said councils should receive the £200m they currently lose from homes in England rated at band E or above where only one person pays the tax.

The government said it had "no plans" to change the current system.

'Wealthy bachelor'

Peter Fleming, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) improvement board, said removing the discount would "protect discounts for struggling families and those who need it most".

Before April 2013, there was a national council tax benefit available but since that date people on a low income or claiming benefits must instead apply to their council to ask if they are eligible for a council tax reduction.

But the LGA argues that the shift in responsibility from national to local government was accompanied by a 10% reduction - equivalent to £410m - in government funding for council tax support.

Mr Fleming said: "It is difficult to justify why discounts for wealthy professionals living in large homes are protected while nearby there are low-income families struggling to make ends meet who are having their discounts cut.

"This 'wealthy bachelor' discount currently costs councils £200m per year in lost council tax revenue and is subsidising individuals occupying large homes at a time when there is a dire shortage of housing."

Poll tax

But Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said ending the discount would amount to "a Bridget Jones Tax" - that would unfairly hit those who live alone.

At present, it is not just adults living alone who qualify for the 25% discount.

Because there are many groups of people who do not qualify as council tax payers - including children under 18, people on apprentice schemes, full-time students, people with a severe mental disability and live-in carers among others - any household which includes one paying adult among them would be subject to a discount.

The council tax replaced the poll tax - which was largely based on a per-person charge - in 1993.

The proposals by the LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, have been outlined to the Treasury ahead of this year's budget.

 

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 988.

    Perhaps a better idea would be to increase the council tax based on the number of adults living in the property. After all, more occupants equals a greater use of council services. That's fair and reasonable.

  • rate this
    +48

    Comment number 761.

    The current 25% reduction available to council tax payers where there is only one adult living at the address is indeed unfair! it should be at least 50%. The idea that someone living in a higher tax band house is rich enough to afford to pay more tax has no merits whatsoever. Note that being in a high tax band property does not mean it is a large house, there are many small but pricy apartments.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 760.

    If you have a tax system based on the value of the property you happen to live in rather than your income then there will always be these anomalies. Why not base it on the value of your car(s), yachts or investments or amount of alchohol consumed or foreign holidays or some other arbitrary wealth indicator (all which are down to personal choice). An outdated system from the middle ages!

  • rate this
    -38

    Comment number 697.

    I think it is a very selfish attitude - all the people saying their discount should be even bigger because they are single and/or don't have children.

    Many councils services are not reduced just because you live alone - fire, street lighting (is it dark by your house!!), and education is something we all benefit from (who paid for yours?) and who will pay for your pension and later life support?

  • rate this
    +42

    Comment number 689.

    Generally, a single person makes less demand on local services than, say a couple or a household of more than two people. Therefore, it makes complete sense that a single person pay less than a household with more than one occupant. Anything else would be illogical, unfair and perverse.

 

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