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Nice view? Off-street parking? That'll cost you £600 more in council tax


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Nice view? Off-street parking? That'll cost you £600 more in council tax


By Ian Drury

Last updated at 3:37 PM on 27th July 2009



Home owners face paying more council tax simply for enjoying nice views or having a patio or off-street parking.

Officials have secretly assessed more than 11million homes for 'desirable features' as Labour prepares for a revaluation of council tax after a General Election. Ministers admit the Valuation Office Agency is building a huge database of all 23million homes in England.


Critics say the checklist used by inspectors is a manual for bumping up tax on middle-class households by hundreds of pounds a year.


article-0-028A4F91000004B0-932_468x286.jpg Unfair: Houses with a nice view could face big council tax increases


The Tories said last night that documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show in new and alarming detail how residents of good neighbourhoods will be hit hardest.


Home owners with views of any kind, patios, conservatories - even a bus stop nearby - could face rises of up to £600 a year.







Tory local government spokesman Caroline Spelman said last night: 'Only Labour would think of taxing people for looking out of their own windows.'


The Orwellian system puts every home into one of almost 100 'dwellinghouse codes'.

They range from modest council flats to mansions, and take account of architectural styles and age.


Inspectors record the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, whether the house is detached and if it has a garden. Even a children's treehouse is considered 'value significant'.


Each property is given codes so all attributes and improvements made since the last valuation in 1991 can be taken into account when deciding if it should go up a council tax band.


Enlarge article-1202406-05DA576B000005DC-773_468x626.jpg

The database goes into astonishing detail. Homes assessed with scenic views - nearly 100,000 so far - are divided by whether they can see the sea, hills, mountains, lakes, fields or a golf course and whether they have 'full' or 'partial' views.


The VOA has so far found 26,346 homes with a full sea view and 21,709 overlooking a golf course or fields.


Another 13,324 have a full view of a river. All are likely to face the largest rises.


Conservatories are split into four types and sizes, so the 115,610 homes with double-glazed versions will face a steeper increase than the 43,821 with single glazing.


More than 13,000 homes with swimming pools are on the database, with separate categories for indoor and outdoor. The VOA has also recorded 1,731 homes with equestrian paddocks, 4,933 stables, 2,863 tennis courts and 2,268 penthouses.


Garages and offstreet parking are also classed as 'value significant features'. People who live in quiet areas or cul-de-sacs will be expected to pay more for the privilege but those next to a railway line, or in an area with no street lighting, could find their bills reduced.


A revaluation has already happened in Wales, where it led to 33 per cent of homes going up a council tax band and only eight per cent going down.


Mrs Spelman said: 'Gordon Brown's council tax inspectors have been caught red-handed preparing the way for massive tax rises on middle England after the election, to fill the black hole in Britain's ruined public finances.


'There is now cast-iron proof of a council tax revaluation by stealth. Conservatives will scrap these tax-raising plans and abolish tax inspectors' rights of entry into your home.'


The Government has spent £13million so far on the VOA's database. Ministers have also quietly renewed a multi-million-pound deal with a leading property website to access details of sale prices and floorplans of tens of thousands of homes.

Current council tax bills are based on the assessments made in 1991. Labour shelved their original plans for a countrywide revaluation amid fears of a voter backlash. But they have not ruled it out if Gordon Brown wins the Election.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/property/article-1202406/Nice-view-Thatll-cost-600-council-tax.html;jsessionid=37120ADD7D90831DAB59836F372F5D28#ixzz0MTPQKMHS

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