Local Government Revenue - Reviews and Reports

The Lyons Inquiry

The Lyons Inquiry was set up in July 2004 and was the follow on to the Balance of Funding Review (BoF).  Sir Michael did have the decency to meet with us twice, and we actively put forward suggestions for reform along with research to support our work.  At first, we were cautiously optimistic that Sir Michael would report back to Government with some acceptable reforms to the Council Tax system that would make it less unfair.  However, when his remit was extended in December 2005, it became clear that the Government was just dragging the review out, and wasn't really serious about addressing the issues.  As it turned out, Sir Michael's final report and recommendations were disappointing to say the least, and Gordon Brown simply kicked the report into the political longrass.

The key recommendations of the report were:

  1. Enabling greater local flexibility and more space for local choices to be made
  2. Government Offices need to reduce their substantial levels of control
  3. Council tax is not broken, and should be retained as a local tax
  4. Rename Council Tax Benefit (CTB) to Council Tax Rebate (CTR)
  5. Improve the take up of CTB
  6. Raise the savings limit for pensioners so more qualify for CTB
  7. Supplement Council Tax with an assigned portion of National Income Tax or a Local Income Tax
  8. Clear division of responsibilities between Central and Local Government
  9. Abolish the capping power of Central Government
  10. Show the percentage of Central Government Grant on Council Tax bills
  11. Revaluation now and on a regular basis going forwards
  12. Future Council Tax liability to be based on actual property values

This is not to say though that that the report has been dismissed out of hand.   When the time is right, for example, immediately after the next General Election and assuming that the present Government is returned to power, don't be surprised to see some of the recommendations implemented.  For example, work is already being undertaken (in secret) for a propery revaluation in England.  It is worth remembering what happened in Wales when revaluation was forced upon it.

Meeting Notes

5 July 2006

Meeting with Sir Michael Lyons and Sally Burlington

19 October 2006

Meeting with Sir Michael Lyons, Sally Burlington and Kate Alexander


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