February 19, 2004

Higher Taxes for Food and Shelter

You might not know it from my recent entries, what with everything that's been going on, but I haven't been ignoring the world around me. Besides, I have at least one UK reader who depends on me as their sole news source, and I can't let down my readers.

It will come as no surprise that taxes are going up again and I'm complaining about it. We are lucky here in the Shire. Our council tax (the money raised locally to fund local government - combined with money supplied by central government) is only going up by 10.4% this year. Council tax is similar to property tax in the US, except that it is levied on the occupants of a property, not the owners. It is a personal tax based on the roof over your head. And rather than being assessed on the actual value of the property, the accommodation is placed in a one of four tax rate bands.

The exception is second homes. People who have holiday homes in the Shire will see their council tax rise by 90%. That is not a misprint or a mistype. Ninety percent. The only reason it is 90% is that this this the maximum allowed by law. The purpose of council tax is to fund local services. Mrs H commented to me that isn't exactly fair that those who principally live elsewhere and only occasionally use local services should pay by far the largest amount to support them.

But back to our single-home dwellers... 83-year-old Elizabeth Winkfield is headed for prison because she won't pay the almost 18% increase where she lives in Devon. She lives on a state pension (social security) of 312 a month. Her council tax went up by 99. By contrast, old age pension increased by 1.7% last year. Relative youngster, 71-year-old Sylvia Hardy is going to jail because the increase in tax for her flat, one band lower that Winkfield's, is 91.

These ladies and other pensioners are likely to be around longer to keep paying council tax because the Government is now planning to tax unhealthy food more heavily. Restaurant food has always been taxed with 17.5% VAT (sales tax) like most other retail goods. Supermarket food has always been exempt. Now foods with unsaturated fat (e.g., milk, cheese, butter) or otherwise deemed less desirable by the Government will be 17.5% more expensive to drive consumers away from them - and of course to raise more money for the Treasury from those who just can't obey and eat what they are told to eat.

Posted by david at February 19, 2004 11:43 PM | TrackBack

As much as I otherwise like the UK, this is horrible. I linked to this and commented on it on the blog today. (The email address given here is a spamtrap - don't use. You may email me through my blog if you like.)

Posted by: The young fogey at February 20, 2004 04:55 PM

Re: the email, never mind. This blog asked me for an address but didn't make a link. My screen name here will take you to my blog (thanks for the permanent link on the side!).

Posted by: The young fogey at February 20, 2004 04:57 PM

I used to like going to the supermarket on weekend evenings but I can't now because a gang of teenage thugs terrorizes the lane I need to use to avoid a long walk by the street. They throw glass bottles and lit cigarette ends at people within sight of a police station funded by my 1100 community charge and the police do absolutely nothing. It seems we pay to be oppressed in umpteen different ways.

Posted by: Havdala at February 20, 2004 06:25 PM