PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE ISITFAIR COUNCIL TAX PROTEST GROUP

For further press information, please contact: Christine Melsom on 01428-712680 or E-mail c@isitfair.co.uk

27th June 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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ISITFAIR CAMPAIGN MP Expenses and Reform 

There can be no doubt that the recent revelations of expenses abuses by our elected MPs is a shameful low point for Parliament.  With the Metropolitan Police now launching their own investigations, the possibility of charges being brought against some MPs for fraud is a real possibility.  No wonder the electorate in general view Parliament with complete and utter contempt.  Seeing and hearing our MPs squeal and make excuses for their actions does nothing to restore any confidence in any of them.  Coupled with the disastrous problems surrounding the Government's leadership, we have all seen the 'rats deserting the sinking ship'.  Has the gravy train finally run out for many of them?  Let's hope so. 

Our MPs’ abuses have been exposed, and root and branch reform of the expenses system is now being looked at.  Desperate to try and save themselves and restore some level of confidence and trust, our MPs are now showing a more humbled manner.  They need to remember that they are elected and to treat their position with respect.  Attitudes must change. MPs can be deselected. 

Knowing that a system is fundamentally wrong and open to abuse should always result in reform.  Yet when it comes to council tax, our politicians shy away from it.  Why though? Could it be that for many of their members it has been a ‘nice little earner’? These people have a basic salary of nearly £65,000 each year and yet many of them not only claim back their council tax but also add on a bit more for the effort of making the claim. (To rub salt into the wound, in a number of cases where MPs have failed to pay their council tax, attempts have been made to recoup from their expenses the cost of the liability order issued by the Magistrates Courts!) 

Or could it be that 'the problem' is now so big that no politician or party has the strength of character required to undertake the reform so desperately needed. The recent Lyons Inquiry which took three years to report was immediately shelved by Gordon Brown.  When faced with a difficult decision, he 'bottled it'.

Ignoring 'the problem' won't make it go away.  MPs have known since 2005 that hundreds of thousands of properties are in the wrong council tax band and are being overcharged.  Their response is to do nothing.  Just like the expenses abuses, it is OK to rip off the taxpayer one way or the other. Council tax payers have been abused with year on year inflation busting increases ever since Labour came to power in 1997 and Gordon Brown has ruthlessly exploited the weaknesses of the council tax system (but, of course, blamed the local authorities for the increases). 

Council tax is now overly excessive. A tax based on the value of the property that you live in does not reflect your ability to pay that tax. Pensioners and the low paid are struggling to pay. Of course this wretched Government will say ‘that is why we have the benefit system’. Those of us who have managed to save a little towards a reasonable retirement will, of course, not be included – because – according to the formula used by this Government our savings are earning £1 per £100 per month. Those not yet retired but with savings are deemed to receive £2 per £100 per month. In fact, there is nothing. No interest, no income equals poverty for many and an ever lengthening line at the council offices to try to claim council tax benefit. What they are doing is robbing Peter to pay Paul, and Paul is already a wealthy MP!! And we maintain that a taxation system that has to have a benefit system to make it work is just wrong. 

The system is fundamentally flawed.  It needs to be replaced with a fairer, more transparent system that takes into account ability to pay. 

Isitfair now calls on Parliament and the Government to take the tough decision to look at root and branch reform of the council tax system.  If MPs are serious about restoring confidence and trust, resolving the council tax problem would be a step in the right direction.

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For further press information, please contact: Christine Melsom on 01428-712680 or E-mail c@isitfair.co.uk 

Issued by Isitfair Campaign, Headley, Hampshire GU35 8PJ