Memorandum by the Public and Commercial
Services Union (DWB 21)
PCS made a detailed submission to the Local
Government Green Paper detailing our concerns about council tax
and in particular council tax revaluation (copy attached).
In our Green Paper submission we noted; "the
benefits of revaluation of domestic properties are not confined
merely to the efficiency of the council tax" and we went
on to outline the benefits of linking water charging with a rebanding
of the council tax.
With this point in mind we have restricted our
comments to Clause 27 of the draft Bill, referring to the "Objectives
and duties under the Water Industry Act 1991" as we see our
proposals as being in the best "interests of the consumers".
Linking Water Charges to Council Tax Bands
PCS believes the linking of water charging with
council tax bands can provide a fair and progressive charging
system which is consistent with government policies on the environment
and its advocacy of social justice. This would also reinforce
the economic dynamics of introducing a preference system for the
public of water metering or council tax based charging.
PCS commissioned research
on the advantages of linking water charging to council tax bands.
The research established;
current charges for unmetered water
usage is based upon rateable values which are 30 years out of
the majority of the population will
not be using water meters for at least 25 years, which further
strains the credibility of current charging arrangements;
the highest relative proportion of
charges to income falls upon low income families with children,
who effectively subsidies high income, low water users who opt
for metering; and
the credibility of the current charging
system is increasingly in question and requires replacement by
a mechanism which will carry public confidence.
PCS believes that our proposals are consistent
with the policy of joined up government. They also capitalise
upon the Valuation Office Agency's ability to play a pivotal role
in the provision of an up to date, credible and respected database
which would support water meter charging. Moreover it would allow
future governments to utilise this machinery as a potential base
for other utility charges.
Both draft Water Bill and the Local Government
Finance Green Paper present the ideal opportunity to address these
matters in a co-ordinated and consistent way, as part of the government's
policy and approach to fair and progressive taxation.
22 Not printed. Back
Edited by Palmer, G "Water Charging and Social Justice-Why
politicians must act" (New Policy Institute 2000). Back