Bexhill MP - Covert "Domesday Book" Council Tax threat

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Thu Jan 29 20:49:33 GMT 2009

MP's alarm over "Domesday Book" Council Tax threat
Published Date: 28 January 2009

ALARM was expressed by Bexhill's MP this week at the prospect of
Council Tax bills being based on a latter-day Domesday Book.
Government tax inspectors have divided England up into 10,000
neighbourhoods. Rother and Wealden would comprise 52 such zones as
part of Gordon Brown's plans for Council Tax revaluation after the
General Election, says Gregory Barker.
"So-called 'localities' have been covertly drawn up by government
surveyors and by using commercial 'geo-demographic data'.
"After the revaluation, Council Tax bills will be based on the
'niceness' of the community and the character and lifestyles of the
people who live in a neighbourhood.
•Valuing every neighbourhood for its niceness: Whitehall tax
inspectors from the Valuation Office Agency have divided up England
into 10,000 units in preparation for the council tax revaluation. Each
neighbourhood has been given a 'value significance', which has been
fed into the Government's council tax revaluation database – the
Automated Valuation Model. Using complex mathematical calculations,
nice neighbourhoods will end up being hit with higher council tax bills.
•Different bills for different neighbourhoods: 'ACORN' lifestyle data
helps the tax inspectors differentiate between neighbourhoods with
'student flats' or 'single parents', and those with 'retired home
owners' or 'farming communities'. A leaked Powerpoint presentation
delivered by the Government's Deputy Director of Council Tax shows how
the new revaluation database can distinguish a 'local authority
housing estate' next to a 'privately built housing estate' – with the
implication that the latter will pay more tax purely because of its
different neighbourhood characteristics.
•ID number for every neighbourhood: Each neighbourhood has been given
a six digit ID number – but no name. The historic character of Rother
or Wealden for example will be ignored by the tax inspectors and have
been replaced by codes, in this case, 1430 and 1435 respectively with
each subdivided further by neighbourhood. The Government has refused
to publish the maps and boundaries of the individual neighbourhoods on
grounds the information is 'commercially sensitive', but has admitted
that the maps and values are being updated and refined frequently.
"This new technology has not previously been used in Britain. However,
the Labour Government did undertake a council tax revaluation in Wales
in 2005, where four times as many homes moved up a council tax band as
moved down – showing how the revaluation will be used to increase the
tax burden."
Mr Barker said: "There is now cast-iron evidence that Gordon Brown's
tax inspectors are preparing for a council tax revaluation after the
next General Election.
"Labour Ministers have literally developed a 21st Century Domesday
Book – and have carved up Bexhill and Battle into anonymous
'localities' for taxation. Family homes which enjoy lower rates of
crime, less traffic or a friendlier community, compared to the
national average, now face the prospect of higher taxes.
"Council tax is already at record levels thanks to Gordon Brown. A
Conservative Government will scrap Labour's plans for the council tax
revaluation, and free up central funds to help local councils freeze
council tax bills."
*A detailed dossier on the Government's council tax plans, "Gordon
Brown's nice neighbourhood tax", is available at: (PDF file).

The Government's list of the code numbers given to each individual
neighbourhood in each council area is at:
(Excel file)

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