Sidmouth's MP highlights tax banding problems

PUBLISHED: 12:33 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:26 18 June 2010

SIDMOUTH'S MP Hugo Swire believes there are 'serious problems' over the banding of homes for council tax. New figures have revealed that the Government has been forced to redo the council tax bands of thousands of homes after appeals by householders acros

SIDMOUTH'S MP Hugo Swire believes there are 'serious problems' over the banding of homes for council tax.New figures have revealed that the Government has been forced to redo the council tax bands of thousands of homes after appeals by householders across East Devon and the country.Official papers from Gordon Brown's council tax inspectors, the Valuation Office Agency, reveal many homes are in the wrong band for council tax and families have been paying over the odds for years. The combination of a campaign by 'Money Saving Expert' Martin Lewis, and an ITV Tonight documentary, has produced a surge in council tax appeals. Now Parliamentary Questions have forced the Government to publish detailed figures on the changes to council tax bands.In the last three years, 190,000 existing homes have had their council tax band changed: 133,985 homes have moved down a band. In East Devon, 647 homes have moved down a council tax band as a result of appeals. This proves there are serious and systematic errors in the banding of homes, which Ministers have been covering up to save money.Wales has been used as a test-bed for a council tax revaluation. Three times as many homes moved up a band as down. Yet since that 2005 revaluation, a succession of errors has also been uncovered with the Valuation Office Agency's work. To date, 1 in 20 homes in Wales have had their post-revaluation banding corrected. A wholesale council tax revaluation has thus caused more problems than it solved.Mr Swire said: "We now have clear evidence of a council tax cover-up. The Labour Government has been caught red-handed fiddling council tax to make families in East Devon and across the country pay more. Whitehall bureaucrats know that many homes across the country are wrongly banded, but have refused to correct the tax inspectors' errors to save the Government money and save face."The whole basis of our tax system is undermined if the state conspires to over-charge the public. Labour Ministers only want to reform the council tax system if it rakes in extra cash for Gordon Brown's coffers.

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