Text Only Version Last Update: Press Releases (14 July 2006)
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David Ruffley MP
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David Ruffley
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Council Tax
The sheer volume of letters from my constituents about Council Tax tells me it remains a major issue for many local people.
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But it is not simply a case of people slamming their local council. They recognise it is not that simple to fix.
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One idea that has come to the fore of the debate is that being championed by the Is It Fair campaign headed in our part of Suffolk by Michael Crisp.
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This local group are presenting me with a petition, signed by up to a thousand local people, arguing for reform of the Council Tax.
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This involves replacing Council Tax with a tax linked to peopleís income levels Ė a system of taxation that is more closely related to a personís ability to pay.
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Whilst this proposal is at least worth airing I believe that most local people are well aware of the major deciding factor in the level of taxes set by councils.
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This is the level of funding provided by central Government to each individual council.
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Under this Government, the amount of councilsí expenditure that is financed by council tax has risen year-on-year. In other words, councils - and you the local taxpayers - have to pick up the bill for central Governmentís increased burdens and red-tape piled on to local authorities like St Edmundsbury and Mid Suffolk District Council. That is one reason why Council Tax is higher than it need be.
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Central Government is funding less of local authoritiesí spending needs, and so the shortfall has to be made up in higher Council Tax - otherwise public services suffer.
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The average band D home has seen a rise of more than seventy per cent on their Council Tax bill in the last eight years.
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Earlier in the year I also proposed the cancellation of the revaluation process, which would cost the average household hundreds of pounds each year. I do welcome the Governmentís U-turn on this issue. But it is still not dead - it has only been postponed.
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The alternative of shifting the burden of Council Tax to a local personal income tax does though have its own problems. It could mean much higher bills for working middle income families.
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So in the meantime, before a new system is introduced letís focus our fire on the big issue. Shire counties, such as Suffolk, are being victimised by Central Government. It is the Governmentís fudged funding that sees Suffolk lose out as more money is poured into urban areas in the north of England. We need a fair share of funding for Suffolk once more.
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David Ruffley MP - On Your Side
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