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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
(PPC) 2024 General Election

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The Growing Strain of Council Tax – A Call for Relief

In a concerning revelation, new data from the TaxPayers’ Alliance has shed light on the escalating burden of council tax across the UK. The analysis paints a stark picture, with some local authorities imposing a hefty ten per cent charge on citizens’ salaries. This financial strain has doubled in relation to median earnings since the inception of council tax, prompting calls for an urgent freeze on rates to provide households with the much-needed breathing room they deserve.

**Divergent Burdens Across the Nation**

The TaxPayers’ Alliance report exposes a glaring disparity in council tax burdens across the UK. The North East emerges as the region with the highest council tax burden, accounting for a staggering 8.66 per cent of median earnings. Meanwhile, Scotland boasts the lowest council tax relative to median gross pay at 5.1 per cent, closely followed by London at 5.42 per cent.

The alliance labels this escalating tax as an “unsustainable burden” that’s particularly impactful for already-strained households. In response, they’re advocating for a freeze on council tax rates in the upcoming year.

**Unveiling the Extremes**

The data highlights local authorities where the council tax burden is as alarming as it is oppressive. West Devon takes the lead, with Band D council tax reaching a staggering £2,347, equating to an astonishing 10.85 per cent of median gross pay. Not far behind is Torridge in north-west Devon, also charging over 10 per cent of the median salary for council tax.

The report also pinpoints Nottingham and Pendle in Lancashire as additional areas where council tax surpasses the 10 per cent threshold of regional median earnings. In stark contrast, Wandsworth in southwest London boasts the lowest burden, with residents only paying 2.16 per cent of their median gross pay towards the levy.

**An Unrelenting Rise over Time**

While council tax is traditionally tied to property values, the analysis underscores a disturbing trend. Payments have surged in relation to both income and property prices. In England, the TaxPayers’ Alliance notes an alarming 79 per cent rise in real terms over the past three decades.

Furthermore, on a national scale, the burden of council tax relative to median average earnings has surged by a staggering 108 per cent since its introduction in 1993 up until 2022. This escalation has taken a disproportionately heavy toll on areas with lower house prices, with London residents paradoxically facing the lowest average council tax bills despite having the highest property prices.

**Urgent Calls for Reform**

The growing chorus of concern has found a resonant voice in Craig Mackinlay, the Tory MP for South Thanet. He asserts that council tax is becoming an increasing burden on taxpayers’ net income, with limited deterrents for town halls from raising the annual tax. A freeze, he argues, would be both simple and welcomed.

Mackinlay doesn’t stop at a mere freeze; he calls for comprehensive reform within the broader tax framework for local authorities. He emphasizes the need for innovative solutions from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to address the escalating issue.

**Seeking Relief for Struggling Taxpayers**

A disconcerting statistic revealed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance underscores the pressing need for action. Over the past two decades, there have been a staggering 9,462 individual council tax increases, with a mere 404 freezes and 393 cuts. This stark asymmetry speaks volumes about the prevailing trend.

John O’Connell, representing the TaxPayers’ Alliance, encapsulates the situation aptly: “Taxpayers are struggling with the unsustainable burden of council tax. But far from falling on those with the broadest shoulders, it appears that the most hard-pressed households are bearing the brunt of rising rates.” With a plea for fairness and consideration, he adds, “The least local authorities can do is freeze council tax next year to give residents much-needed breathing space.”

In conclusion, the looming specter of an increasingly onerous council tax burden calls for immediate attention and action. As families across the nation grapple with rising living costs, the need for relief has never been more urgent. The call for a freeze and reform resonates as a crucial step towards ensuring that citizens can find some semblance of financial stability amidst an ever-challenging landscape.

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