Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anger Grows over Council Tax

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anger Grows over Council Tax

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Higgerson Political Correspondent

The North will be hit hardest in this year's round of Council Tax settlements, with bills in many places almost double those of London's most affluent streets.

Last night, angry pensioners in the region vowed not pay their bills and politicians called for reform of the "buckling" Council Tax system.

A new study predicts the average North household will still pay pounds 100 a year more in Council Tax than people living in the South next year - and that gap could grow even wider.

People living in bottom-level band A properties in Gateshead are already paying pounds 864.58 a year in Council Tax, whereas people in more exclusive band F homes in Westminster, London, are paying just pounds 6.62 more.

And the average Council Tax band D - for properties valued at pounds 68,000 to pounds 88,000 - in Gateshead is more than double that in Westminster.

Because the valuation figures are based on 1991 house prices, they do not take into account the rise in property value which has swept across London and the South since then. Latest Government figures show average property prices in Westminster at pounds 411,127 and pounds 63,334 in Gateshead.

Now figures produced by council finance officers predict that next year people in band D properties across the North-East will be paying an average of pounds 1,227 a year, compared with a national average of pounds 1,168, and pounds 1,118 in Greater London. The average rise in the region on last year is 5.7pc. The figures appear to add weight to claims that the North is penalised by the Council Tax system because it has more small properties in the lower tax bands.

That means councils here have to charge householders more to obtain the same amount in taxes as their counterparts in the South.

A spokesman for the North-East Pensioners' Association said: "We have been given a state pension rise of 2. …

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