Thursday, July 20, 2006

Has Bristow Muldoon Really Thought Through His Council Tax Rebate?

Last month Bristow Muldoon MSP for Livingston announced that he was challenging the Liberal Democrats tax policy. Something, which I said at the time, was due to a lack of understanding that we were aiming for fairness in taxation and not higher taxation. I asked the question then just what has Labour done to lighten the tax burden for the average citizen.

Now Bristow is starting to offer piecemeal insights into his thinking starting with a reduction in council tax for pensioners. He admits that his proposals, unlike the Liberal Democrat tax proposals, have not been costed. However, he is in a bit of the quandary by saying:

The Scottish Labour Party believes the council tax is the best method of local taxation but recognises it could be improved.

How can something be the best system for doing anything if it needs improving? If it is the best system surely there should be no problems.

He acknowledges how unfair Council Tax to pensioners:

For many pensioners, there can be a high proportion of their income paid in council tax.

Of course there is Bristow that is what the Liberal Democrats, SNP and SSP have been telling you for some time now, glad you are catching up. The reason for this Bristow is that the council tax system is based on the value of the property that the pensioners live in and no relation necessarily to the income that they have. Most pensioners who are owner-occupiers will have bought their current house many years’ back in their working lives when they could afford the mortgage etc. They probably spent a lot less on the house than it is worth now especially if the 25 or 30 year mortgage is paid off. They are nowhere near earning proportionately the same to their house value now as when they first bought it. How do we know this because house prices have been inflation busting and pensions have not been anywhere near keeping up with salaries or inflation.

So Bristow and his 25% rebate is offering the appearance of being a knight in shining amour but is really not doing all that much. This would still result in a high proportion of their income paid in council tax especially if compared to an MSP living in Murieston.

He also says that this rebate will not be paid for my other council taxpayers but will be covered by the Executive. Now Bristow is saying the 1.5 million Scottish pensioners should on average be saving £300 on average. So somewhere Bristow is expecting the Executive to find £550 million. So the people of Scotland are going to have to pay for this somewhere.

So all this means that can only mean that the exempt students and non-paying children will have to take this cut from their budgets. Is that really what Bristow was saying?


Paul Walter said...

What a name! "Bristow Muldoon" Wonderful! Any relation to Spotty?

Stephen Glenn said...

You might think that I couldn't possibly comment.

Stephen Glenn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen Glenn said...

Here is his Biog

Will said...

So he's basically saying that council tax is unfair when your income isn't sufficient to pay it? Well, duh. Why just pensioners, though? You risk giving older people with hefty pensions a free lunch while low paid (but not low enough to be on benefit) young folk have to fork out.

Stephen Glenn said...

As I said Will it is good to see he's catching up. Obviously he has some more listening and observing of people to get the full picture. But out of small acorns etc. ;-)

Sarah Johnstone said...

Er - sorry to spoil the party but there are also a lot of rich pensioners who would pay nothing under the local income tax scheme? I honestly think the local income tax is a huge burden for ordinary families. It would be difficuklt to collect (unlike the council tax which is 98% collected in some areas like orkney) and the introduction of it would be as mad as the poll tax. This is not an easy one but lets not pretend there is a simple solution


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