Are councils doing a cash grab at a time when people can least afford it?

Lets take an ordinary couple. They got married 3 years ago – but didnt properly move in together until one of them sold their house which was in a different town.

They lived in a nice house in Nottinghamshire but wanted somewhere bigger and were in the nice position to be able to put an offer in on a bigger property on the same street as they were living.

They move in to the new house and continue to try to sell the old one (on the same street). After 6 months they have to start paying 50% council tax on the empty property. That’s fine as they really wanted to get rid of the house.

Today they get a letter from the local authority saying that their empty property will only get a 10% discount on their council tax – meaning they will pay 90% council tax on it. The reason given – is they think it will encourage vacant properties back to the market!!

Yet… and get this, under the law, the husband could move across the road which would mean only 75% council tax could be levied due to single person occupancy, and the new house would also have its council tax reduced to 75% for exactly the same reason.

So a married couple could live apart, use more council services, yet save money – whilst it would also have the opposite effect of removing housing stock from the market.

Is this story make-believe? No… its the situation me and Mrs Tory Radio are now faced with thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council. Makes no sense… but then when has the tax system even made sense?

The question I have is are councils across the country bumping up their council tax rates for vacant properties at a time when thousands of people cant sell their houses and can least afford to be hit with higher bills?

A Prime Minister in waiting?

Cameron’s visit to the Prime Minister of Georgia during the South Ossetia crisis, was seen by many as a positive and admirable action to take. It came against a backdrop of silence from senior Labour politicians, with the Prime Minister speaking out against the Russian invasion, only after Cameron had announced his visit.

This action, expected more of a Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary, displayed an increased confidence within the Conservatives that they will form the next Government. It also exhibited Cameron’s willingness to usurp the Prime Minister’s position, in an attempt to shift public and the world’s perception of him, from a slick, media operator, to a distinguished statesman, worthy of a place on the world stage.

Brown’s premiership has been marked by his reluctance to take firm action on international issues. Classic examples of this include his unwillingness to hold the Olympic flame, yet still be seen with it, his aversion to host the Dalai Lama on his own and yet meet him with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his signing of the EU Treaty long after his European counterparts.

Cameron’s issue in the past has often been his lack of political weight, particularly evidenced by his disinclination towards foreign affairs. If he continues to supersede the Prime Minister’s position on major issues, it will undoubtedly help to transform this view of him and secure his future in Number 10.

Peter Kearney