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Warning on Council Tax

More pensioners will be plunged into poverty if the government introduces a new band to double Council Tax on 1m homes, says the Devon Pensioners’ Action Forum.

Last week TheTimesalleged that a report on local government fin-ance to be published alongside the Budget this Wednesday is likely to recommend one or two ‘top-rung’ bands which would see dramatic Council Tax increases for the 100,000 home owners with properties valued at more than 1m.

But the concern is that many pensioners live in houses bought decades ago for vastly less than they are worth now. With prices doubling in the past four years alone, their incomes are low compared with their property’s current value.

Albert Venison, chairman of the DPAF, says it already has 98 members prepared to be jailed for refusing to pay increased Council Tax for 2006/07 and a further 151 who would be prepared to get a court summons before deciding what action to take.

One of its members, Sylvia Hardy, made headlines in 2005 when she was sent to prison for two days after refusing to pay Council Tax arrears of 53.71.

Venison says: “Tax has to be based on ability to pay. The government continues to tinker with Council Tax policy but it needs to make serious changes and come up with a fresh idea. Too many pensioners are forced to live off savings which don’t get replaced. I have seen my tax rise 100% in the past 10 years.”

Both the Tories and Labour have spoken of rebates on Council Tax and Stamp Duty, but only for environmentally-friendly homes.

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