Council Tax has always been a hot subject in Scotland, whether it be the current council tax system or it be the poll tax that was introduced by Margaret Thatcher, but one thing we all agree on is that the current system is neither sustainable nor fair for members of the public.
I have long believed in the scrapping of council tax to be replaced by a fairer system which would sustain the long-term viability of local councils. This is why I was disappointed at the incumbent Scottish Governments decision to backtrack on making changes.
It is my belief that the system should be replaced with a property model based on the price of the property rather than the current banding system which is based on house price figures which are 25 years out of date. This new system based on the existing value of the property (and taxed on the actual property owner).
However, my opinion on this matter does come with a stipulation on means testing and of fairness.
Firstly, current council tax is charged based on two occupants residing in premises. The system only allows a 25% discount to be applied when there is a single occupant in the property. This is unfair to those who live on their own. Any new system must either drop this methodology of occupancy completely or fairly make the discount 50% in the event that the new tax is to be based on two occupants. 50% of the new council tax being applied to each occupant fairly in terms of liability.
Secondly, any new tax must take into account the income of the occupants of the premises. All too often, people are subjected to high council tax rates simply based on where they live. The system must take into account, not just the income of an individual but also their means to pay such a tax. A person in receipt of means tested benefits should not be subjected to the same taxation as a person who is in a high paid job, the same is true of persons living in a specific property due to someone in the property having a disability and the extra requirements therein.
In addition, legal requirements in terms of qualification for council tax discounts must be reviewed. It is not acceptable to say that one person qualifies with a mild disability which is written into primary legislation, while another person with substantive disabilities does not qualify because the Government lacked the foresight to adequately list all of the applicable illnesses which do or do not meet eligibility criteria.