October 2003 Archives

A study being carried out in Oxfordshire could provide an answer to the current debate over Council Tax, including the Audit Commission's report which concluded that fundamental flaws in the Council Tax system of funding local government contributed to this year's record council tax increases.

Oxfordshire County and the Vale of White Horse District Councils are working together to see what would happen if the present Council Tax and business rates were replaced by a tax on land values. An area just outside the boundary of Oxford has been chosen for the study and valuation work is planned to start in the new year.

“We know that it must be cheaper to collect tax on the basis of land values alone, avoiding the complications of what buildings are on what sites,” said Cllr Brian Hodgson who first suggested that the County Council should do this study. “And we know that it encourages landholders to get any empty sites into use. It also means that when councils put in improvements like better roads or schools, there is an immediate return to them in higher rates charged as a result of these new amenities.”

The study aims to find out how the introduction of Land Value Tax (LVT) would affect the share paid by different classes of tax-payers - householders, businesses and agricultural holdings. The work will be done by professional valuers and there is growing interest from academics working in this field. The valuation map produced will be available for further research.

“Central Government knows there is a crisis facing local taxation,” said Cllr Paul Bizzell, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council. “We hope this study will contribute to finding a possible solution. We are grateful for the funding support we have received from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and from several groups and individuals who support the introduction of LVT as a local or even national tax.”

Notes to editors:
The Valuation/Academic Study:
The site valuations for the study will be carried out under the supervision of Robert Ashton-Kane FRICS IRRV of CSH Property Consultants. This aspect of the work is made possible through a grant of $15,000 from the American Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to West Berkshire Councillor and Lincoln Fellow Tony Vickers. Vickers has recently completed a three-year study for Lincoln “Preparing for Land Value Taxation in Britain”, in conjunction with Liverpool City Council. He is now pursuing a PhD at Kingston University School of Surveying, looking at the potential uses of Value Maps in the UK. The grant will enable him to produce a demonstration Value Map of the trial area in Oxfordshire. Further details of Vickers' work for Lincoln Institute are at www.lincolninst.edu/pubs/workingpapers and his Kingston University research is described at www.landvaluescape.org (phone/fax 01635 230046).

Definition of LVT: The value of every piece of land should first be assessed. Land means the site alone, not counting any improvements on the site. When the land has been valued, a tax should be fixed on the basis of that value, and then re-assessed annually.

List of Working Group members:
Cllr Margaret Godden, Oxfordshire County Council (Liberal Democrat)
Cllr Paul Bizzell, Vale of White Horse District Council (Liberal Democrat)
Cllr Brian Hodgson, Oxfordshire County Council (Labour)
Cllr Craig Simmons, Oxfordshire County Council (Green)
Cllr Dermot Roaf, Oxfordshire County Council (Liberal Democrat)
Cllr Terry Joslin, Oxfordshire County Council (Labour)

Further information is available

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