Is the Council Tax Dead? Questions of Principle for the Government and the Lyons Inquiry
In September 2005, the Government announced that it was cancelling the exercise already underway to create a new valuation list for all homes in England and to postpone any change to the basis on which council tax is levied until after the next General Election at the earliest. As a result of this cancellation, the council tax will still be based on 1991 values for the conceivable future, and will be increasingly perceived as unfair.
The argument of this paper is that, at a stroke, this cancellation changes the nature of the fundamental challenge facing the Lyons Inquiry as far as council tax is concerned. Previously, its remit was to advise Government on exactly how council tax should be brought up-to-date. Now, by contrast, its first task is to explain why it should be brought up-to-date, rather than being left to rely on the original 1991 valuations indefinitely. This is a question of principle.