Welsh Government planning council tax reforms to make system 'fairer'

The Welsh Government has announced it is planning an "ambitious package" of council tax reforms with the intention of making the system "fairer".

Ministers are currently considering revaluation as an option, which would aim to ensure every property in Wales falls within a tax-band which reflects the property market.

The value of around 1.5 million houses may be reassessed and bands could be added to the top or bottom ends of the scale to better reflect household wealth and people's ability to pay.

The reforms will be one of the first commitments in the Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru co-operation agreement to be carried out.

Rebecca Evans, the Minister for Finance and Local Government told PA news: "We haven't had a revaluation in Wales since 2003. But actually, we're in a better place than lots of other parts of the UK where they haven't had a revaluation since 1991.

"Council tax reform is about changing the nature of the council tax base, here in Wales, so those who are more able to pay then do, and those who are unable to pay aren't called upon to pay an amount which is regressive - in terms of the relative amount of their household income that they they end up spending on council tax.

"Inevitably, there will be some change in terms of the liability of individual households. But what I want to look at is making sure that we explore a transitionary arrangements, so that there's not a big shock to individuals or individual households."

The Finance Minister said changes would not be taking place immediately.

The Finance Minister said changes would not be taking place immediately.

A review of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, and an evaluation of discounts, disregards, exemptions and premiums are also proposed, on which a consultation will begin in the new year.

The Welsh Government said it also wants to explore longer term, more radical ideas, such as introducing a local land value tax (LVT) to replace the current local taxes.

Ms Evans said: "We've been trying over the past Senedd term to make council tax fairer by doing smaller things with the existing system that we have.

"For example, we've removed the liability of council tax from people who are leaving care up to the age of 25, to try and help them get the best possible start to adulthood. And we've removed the sanction of imprisonment for people who don't pay their council tax, because struggling and experiencing poverty shouldn't be a crime."

She added: "Lots of people don't realise at the moment that they might be eligible for help with their council tax. We know lots of people's personal circumstances have changed over the course of the pandemic. So this could be a time just to reassess if you're getting all the things that you're properly entitled to."

Sam Rowlands, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Local Government said: "The last time a revaluation took place in Wales one in three families were hammered by higher bills - and as we recover from the challenges of the pandemic that simply can't happen again."