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Wow, looks like the research guys at CCHQ are waking up the world of the web!

It seems odd that such a scheme is accepted in the US - the country which supposedly prizes the right to privacy in the home above many other things.

As a random aside, I wonder if somewhere in the Nanny-knows-best thought processes of the people behind this plan is the idea that having civil servants looking around everyone's houses will uncover illegal activites, or that the anticipation of it will deter them?

Anthony Borderick:It seems odd that such a scheme is accepted in the US - the country which supposedly prizes the right to privacy in the home above many other things.

How many of the US inspectors have been shot by home-owners mistaking them for burglars, al-Qaeda infiltrators, wildlife, friends of the Vice President etc etc?

lol William. Good point.

How much are these army of inspectors going to cost then? Also, will non extended houses see their council tax bills fall, as extended houses increase. I very much doubt it.

Is anyone really suprized that Labour would do this...we all remember the stories about viewing peoples back gardens to see if people are putting up conservatories or whatever without planning approval.

This is par for the course.

The erosion of our rights is becoming positively Orwellian.
Traditionally it has been portrayed as a tendency of right wing governments to eliminate the rights and freedoms of the people and to stamp on them.
Clearly that is wrong, and we should perhaps begin to look upon NuLab and the socialists as the New Stalinites, hell bent on eradicating the Kulaks from society.
This particular idea or proposal is yet another desparate cast of the dice from the Treasury, seeking yet new and novel methods to wring cash from the poor tax payer. The apparatchiks will of course do a good job of interpreting the rules in an infelexible manner and no doubt a new set of taps will be seen as a multi-thousand pound home improvement, worthy of moving the valuation up a bracket, all for the sake of a few more hundered squids a year. The legislation will of course be severe for non-compliance and will enable the apparatchik to poke his nose everywhere, as he's only doing his job!..
I see that my own council, LBRuT,(Richmond upon Thames), wish to increase the Controlled Parking Zone(CPZ)fees, to charge in line with pollution scales and to increase the fee for a second car. A desparate measure from a council starved of funding from central government precepts, looking for new and higher sources of revenue. A Lib-Dem council indeed, that attempted to give away a riverside site in Twickenham, to a property developer, to facilitate a better development for that developer!!!!!.
We are seeing higher levels of intrusion, snooping and controls in our daily lives, that would never have been tolerated 20 years ago.
It really is time that we said no more; no government has been given a mandate from the people to take away their democratic freedoms, or to shackle them in the manner that NuLab have done.

The state forcing their way into our homes!?! This is APPALLING!!!!! It's been suspected (and denied with the usual lies) for ages. Why isn't it on the front pages??? Someone's not doing their job properly.

OK then, Caroline. I think the words you are looking for are "I unequivocally pledge that we will repeal/reverse the extended Article 38 powers when we are elected, and in the meantime I will encourage any Conservative council to boycott any grant of the right to use such powers, thereby demonstrating that the party stands behind the right to privacy and the time honoured principle that an Englishman's home is his castle." OK, it's dangerously close to a policy, but is that really any bad thing?

For the time being this ONLY applies to Northern Ireland!

They are scrapping rating bands (i.e. Council Tax bands) in Northern Ireland and charging rates at 0.7% of the expected market value of the home (it is assumed that it is in typical condition for homes in that area); internal inspections are only required in very contentious cases. The overall tax take is not expected to increase.

What is unfair of course is that there is no upper limit to valuations; however, if they were to scrap inheritance tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Capital Gains Tax, this would just about even things up.

Even dafter is the fact that rates rebates (Council Tax benefit) will continue. It would make more sense to simply exempt the first £50,000 or so in value for each home, so that the poorest pay proportionately much less.

According to FAQ 4 on the relevant section of the NI website,
"Capital values are not the same as current market values.
"They are based on the amount your property could reasonably have sold for at 1 January 2005, and the housing market has changed considerably since then.
"We use assumptions to keep the capital values fair, for example, that properties have standard kitchens and bathrooms for their age, type and location."

It does not say anywhere that everybody, or even most or some people, will get a visit, so who is telling the truth here?

My mind boggles at the amount of squabbling that's going to arise over definitions of value (in addition to being appalled by anti-libertian aspects).

Our bungalow has two bathrooms, because we re-arranged the interior, sacrificing a bedroom in the process - INCREASE IN VALUE?

But it has no garage - DECREASE IN VALUE?

It has a landscaped rear garden - INCREASE IN VALUE?

But the front garden is unimproved - DECREASE IN VALUE?

sjm, ideally, such values would be based purely on value of empty site. Which is nigh impossible to establish.

The next best thing is to use the value of your property as seen from the street (or even better, on a map), assuming that it's worth the same as similar sized bungalows with similar sized gardens in the same area. Internal improvements or total disrepair should be ignored.

Whether this is what will actually happen is a moot point. Let us accept the fact that every now and then, Labour do something right for once. Surely,
1) up-to-date actual market values must be better than banding based on fictional value a dozen years ago;
2) whether the total tax take increases or decreases depends on whether the tax rate is set at 0.5% or 1% (or anywhere in between)
3) when the Tories get back in, assuming they have money for tax cuts, what is more important, cutting income tax (which will help economy) or cutting council tax (which boost house prices without helping economy)?

The NI proposal is interesting because it is being promulagated as pressure to Unionists to agree the St Andres Agreement. HM Govt recognises (as Thatcher did on rates revaluation ) that the new capital value scheme will upset many. In the Agreement Annex C "In response to the strongly expressed views of many in the NI community, the British Government will introduce a cap on domestic rates under the new capital values system and will examine the possibility of further rate reliefs for pensioners on lower incomes." i.e If you don't go along we won't put a cap on rates.

Looks like Labour is using NI as a test for a new property taxation regime as Tories did in Scotland but without the risk on unpopularity as they can't lose seats.

Also for those critics of Cameron's Bill of Rights suggestion - especially those on Labour front bench - the agreement contains phrase "We will establish a forum on a Bill of Rights and convene its inaugural meeting in December 2006." Surely a UK Bill of Rights would be better. It could even protect the right to privacy and outlaw these Inspectors!

Apparently houses with double-glazing will qualify for higher Council Tax Bills. Yes, that's right: householders investing in fuel-efficiency measures will be penalised.

That's very climate-change friendly.

An open goal looms.

These proposals are barmy which is why they will probably come into force. A means tested Poll Tax would be fairer. Council employees paid from the public purse should keep out of private houses (after all some/many of us get very little for our council tax contributions). Mark Wadsworth is wrong. There is no real need for a revaluation and for a very good reason. Council taxes are a moderated form of wealth tax. I would suggest that the major part of any increase in the value of properties will be down to the general rise in properties rather than any improvements, especially if those improvements have been conducted within the property's existing external walls. (yes, I know some people in London have been tunnelling underneath them in the search for space). But in essence it is a tax on real property which rises each year. There is no need for a Domesday like revaluation except for the government's desire to get a one off increase in tax take. They have applied fiscal drag to incomes and now they want to apply the same dubious principle to owner occupied properties. And yes it is absolutely crazy that double glazing will result in a higher liability. Oh well I was thinking of filling in my pool anyway, though I won't now be able to use it as a cistern to save rain water! I am sure David Cameron would think that a shame.

Why should I pay more for street-lighting and bin-emptying because I worked hard to save money to spend on my home rather than on booze and holidays? By this thinking, I should pay more for bread and meat in Tesco because I have more savings than the couple next door.

Bring back the Poll Tax.

Two people in a terrace consume less council services than four people in the identical next-door house. It is totally unjustifiable that both households pay the same council tax – effectively giving the family of four the same services at half the price.

Means tested taxes should be directly and fairly based on income. Nobody should totally escape taxation and the consequences of their vote.

We are now back to the argument I had three months ago. May I respond to some of Esbonio's comments

"Council taxes are a moderated form of wealth tax. I would suggest that the major part of any increase in the value of properties will be down to the general rise in properties rather than any improvements"

Exactly. That is why improvements or indeed dilapidations should be ignored in arriving at values. If there is a generous exemption to exclude the bricks'n'mortar element (I suggst £70,000 for GB) then what is being taxed is the land value.

Which leads me to Esbonio's second observation; this is effectively a tax on rising land values. Which are unearned, and (apart from SDLT and IHT) largely untaxed.

A tax on rising land values would tend to dampen these; so would help prevent the ever recurring property crashes in this country. I fail to see how the cycle of boom and bust in the proeprty market is anything but a Bad Thing?

As I recommended in my Bow Group report, the quid pro quo of removing the cap for land valuations is of course that really evil taxes like Stamp Duty and Inheritance Tax would have to go.

Wealth taxes on any assets other than land are of course just as objectionable as IHT.

There's nothing new about this so-called 'Snooper's Charter'

Officers of the Inland Revenue have always had a right to demand access to your home for Rating and now Council Tax purposes. This goes back at least to the late 1940s when the IR took over responsibility for this work in England Wales and NI (not Scotland)

It has always been a fineable criminal offence to refuse access.

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