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Reports Commissioned by Isitfair

Reports about Council Tax and Local Government Funding

Isitfair has commissioned Grey Hairs Limited to carry out a number of independent reviews into Council Tax and Local Government Funding.  These reviews have resulted in a number of in depth and thought provoking reports that often challenge what Central Government would have us believe.  Many of these reports have been presented to Ministers, local MPs and Councillors in order to show that there are alternatives to the present system of Council Tax.
These reports are published here for public information. All are protected by copyright and therefore should not be reproduced in any shape or form without the explicit consent of the author. The author may be contacted at Grey Hairs Ltd.

Reforming Council Tax - A Summary of the Options

A brief summary of options that could be implemented that would either replace the present system of funding, or make the present system less unfair.  Read more...

Local Authority Funding - A Fairer Tax Raising System

Abolishing the council tax in whole or in part and replacing it with increases to national taxation - income tax and VAT being the favoured candidates.
Summary Report
Full Report
Appendix I
Appendix II

Local Income Tax

Is Local Income Tax (LIT) a viable alternative to Council Tax?  Like any system of taxation, it has both good and bad points.  Some political parties regard LIT as a suitable replacement for Council Tax, but is it?  Read more...

The Relationship between Central Government Grants and Council Tax Bills

The amount of Band D Council Tax varies between Local Authorities.  For example, in 2006/07 Sedgefield charged £1,565 while Wandsworth charged £681.  What causes such a wide variance?  Is it the Local Authority, Central Government or both?  Read more...

Mending Local Democracy

This report addresses two interrelated issues:

  1. Turnouts at local elections have been very low of recent years
  2. Local taxation has become increasingly unpopular with the local electorate

We only got the Community Charge because the Rates became so unpopular, and we only got the Council Tax because the Community Charge also became unpopular.  Read more...

Flat Taxes

A flat tax is simply a tax where there is one tax rate and everyone pays it.  For example, if we were to have a pure flat tax on our income we would all pay, say, 20 percent on everything we earned: £2k if you earn £10k; £20k if you earn £100k and so on.
Could a flat tax system be used for Council Tax?  Read more...

The Band D Delusion

This paper argues that the band of a house is essentially a bureaucratic construct and that, as such, it is a delusion with many undesirable practical consequences arising from treating it as something real and meaningful.  Read more...

Further Reports about Council Tax and Local Authority Funding

Council Tax - Problems with the Current System

In principle, council tax is relatively simple but in practice it is very complex.  The problem is that different people find themselves paying widely differing percentages of their income in council tax, and in a significant number of cases these percentages are high where income tends to be small.  There are two quite distinct and different aspects to this problem:
In the first place there are normally problems within any one council district.
In the second place there are also problems between council districts.  People on very similar incomes can face very different council tax bills, which are mainly dependent on where in the country they happen to live.  Read more...

Is the Council Tax System Broken and can it be Mended?

This paper represents an interim report into whether or not the existing Council Tax system is in some way "unfair" and, if so, whether or not the system can be made significantly less "unfair" by making changes to either the system used by Central Government for allocating grants to Local Authorities and/or changing the banding structure within individual Local Authorities.  In undertaking this work, Grey Hairs Ltd. has made use of the same type of statistically based demographic and financial modelling that it has used extensively, (and successfully!), over many years and in many different countries to evaluate infrastructure investment proposals.  Read more...

The Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Incomes 2005/06

This report re-examines the claim by the Liberal Democrats that "the bottom 20% of households are paying a higher proportion of their income in taxes than the top 20%".  This claim was based on the findings of a report by the ONS.  Read more...

Report on the Funding and Structure of Local Government

The Lyons Inquiry was the latest Government report into local authority funding, and was a follow on to the Balance of Funding Review.  The final publication and recommendations were disappointing and were quickly shelved for the time being by Gordon Brown.  Isitfair participated in the submissions and debate with Sir Michael Lyons.  At the same time we undertook our own analysis along similar lines and the following are our own, independent results.

Part I - Introduction and Executive Summary
Part II - Philosophical Issues
Part III - Current Problems
Part IV - Some Non Solutions
Part V - Possible Solutions

Inflation and Council Tax

In a letter to Isitfair dated 27th June 2007 the then Minister for Local Government and Community Cohesion, Phil Woolas, wrote that:
"You point out that Council Tax, which is set by Councils, has gone up 91%.  It is only fair to point out that Government grant to Councils has also increased by 78% on a like for like basis (or 39% above inflation).  It is local authorities who decide what levels of council tax they think they need.  However, the Government has provided above inflation grant increases and has a capping policy resulting in average Council Tax this year being below RPI."
Phil Woolas claims that Central Government grants increased above inflation for the current year so that Council Tax rises were below RPI.  The difference in terminology is important.  Read more...


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