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Local Taxation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:24 pm on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of Sarah Teather Sarah Teather Shadow Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) 4:24 pm, 4th July 2005

I shall give way to the right hon. Gentleman shortly.

Council tax is fundamentally unfair because the poorest 20 per cent. pay far more of their income to it than the richest 20 per cent. That is much more the case for pensioners, who pay six times as much of their income as the richest 20 per cent. That explains the revolt against council tax.

As other hon. Members said, benefit take-up is poor. It is an intimidating process. Two thirds of pensioners fail to claim the benefit that they are owed. We need to end the nonsense which suggests that council tax is easy to collect because property does not move. Some £600 million-worth of council tax went unpaid last year. We now have the spectre of an 85-year-old lady being imprisoned for not paying her council tax, which she says she is unable to pay.