New quality of life council tax mooted

The government is planning to introduce a new system of council tax based upon the quality of life and crime levels within the area, the Conservative party claims.

Shadow communities and local government secretary Caroline Spelman believes that council tax bills could rise by more than four times for residents in areas of England with good schools, clean streets and low crime rates.

However, the Department for Local Communities and Government (DCLG) has said that the reports amount to “scaremongering”.

A similar system is being trialled in Northern Ireland, and the council tax system in England, which is still tied to 1991 house prices, is under review by Michael Lyons.

Ms Spelman told the Sunday Telegraph the nation would be divided into 287 localities and high-tech computer equipment used to evaluate England’s 21 million homes.

The newspaper quotes communities minister Phil Woolas as saying “the market for dwellings may be influenced by levels of crime and deprivation”.

Ms Spelman said: “If Labour introduces this invasive system fully in England, your council tax bill will depend not just on the features of your house, but whether you have good schools or clean streets, and whether you have low or high rates of crime.

“This is the hallmark of an oppressive and greedy government – finding ever more stealth ways to tax working families and pensioners, and trampling over privacy when it suits them.”

But a government spokesman insisted: “Northern Ireland has a different local government finance system to England – for example, council tax was never introduced there – and different considerations apply.”