Reflections on Fairness and its Implications for the Evaluation of Council Tax Reform
This note responds to the request for ‘technical’ feedback to the interim report of Sir Michael Lyons’ Inquiry into Local Government (hereafter Lyons). Its focus is the way that Lyons has evaluated the different options for reform of the Council Tax (hereafter CT) using the ratio of tax paid to income as the criterion by which to judge fairness. In particular, it examines the conclusion that “adding additional bands would appear not to have a significant impact on fairness in terms of the link to ability to pay as measured by income”. The importance of this conclusion cannot be overstated since, on the basis of it, Lyons appears to rule out all proposals for reform of the CT banding structure, concentrating all reform efforts on Council Tax Benefit.