Council Tax

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2010 Retired Members' Conference
10 June 2010

Conference recalls Motion 5 at Retired Members’ Conference 2007 on Council Tax which was remitted on the understanding that the Retired Members’ Committee would refer the matter to the UNISON Council Tax Working Group for consideration.

It seems from the report that this was done and the concerns raised were fed into discussions on the continuing inequities in the Council Tax system as a result of which UNISON considered it appropriate to make a number of key suggestions on how Council Tax can be made fairer. These include a review of Council Tax Benefit and consideration of the New Policy Institute’s idea of a national “maximum liability to Council Tax”. Whilst welcoming these discussions and ongoing work on this issue Conference is concerned that no action to address the inequities has yet occurred.

Conference reaffirms its belief that Council Tax is an inherently unfair tax which does not properly reflect people’s ability to pay and more importantly it is not based on an equitable system for calculating amounts that should be paid. As a result many pensioners pay a disproportionate contribution based upon arbitrary bandings, but not on income or more crucially an ability to afford these arbitrary amounts. Thus too many pensioners continue to pay a higher percentage of their limited income on Council Tax than their working counterparts whose income is higher.

Conference believes that this matter cannot be allowed to drift and that radical reform of the Council Tax system in regard to pensioners should be an immediate priority. This should include consideration of a mandatory rebate of 50% for single pensioner households and 25% for married and civil partnership pensioner couples. This would address the inequity of the current system which results in pensioners on modest fixed incomes paying far more of this income in Council Tax than their working counterparts.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

i. liaise with the National Executive Council (NEC) and other appropriate bodies about this proposal and seek their support for an urgent review of the Council Tax system to address the inequities that disadvantage pensioners;

ii. publicise their work on this issue through all appropriate channels;

iii. urge retired members to write to their MPs to seek their support for a review of the Council Tax system;

iv. report back to Retired Members’ Conference 2011.