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I welcome this debate on a subject that is of great concern to many of my constituents in East Dunbartonshire. The Conservative Members who have spoken are certainly right in one respect—the current system of council tax places an unfair burden on many people, particularly those on low incomes such as pensioners. Across the country, council tax bills have risen faster than inflation as local authorities have struggled to cope with additional responsibilities handed down by central Government, but often without the additional resources to deliver. Thus the council tax has essentially been used as a stealth tax, often penalising those who can afford it least.
It is a shocking state of affairs that the poorest people pay 6 per cent. of their income in council tax but the richest pay just 1.5 per cent. That surely cannot be right and it shows just how regressive and unjust this tax is. It is only due to get worse with the proposed rebanding exercise. We have already seen what has happened in Wales, where many people are now paying much more. For example, in Cardiff, two thirds of houses went up at least a band. Scotland, thanks to the Liberal Democrats, has a reprieve from the council tax revaluation while the independent review looks into the issue of local government finance.