Welsh Gov launches consultation on council tax reform as part of Plaid deal
The Welsh Government has announced plans for a consultation next year on a package of council tax reforms.
Finance and Local Government Minister Rebecca Evans, says the move is the first step in progressing the Programme for Government and Plaid Cymru Co-operation Agreement commitments to make Council Tax fairer.
Options being considered this term include revaluation, a review of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, and an evaluation of discounts, disregards, exemptions and premiums – with options for more fundamental reform in the longer term.
Reforms to council tax would be designed to ensure contributions from households are made as fairly as possible, while maintaining its role as a significant revenue stream which helps to fund essential public services including education, social care, and recycling.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “We want to modernise the council tax system and make it fairer. We want to make council tax more progressive in its design and delivery.
“This will be a significant piece of work and it will be important, through the consultation we launch next year, that we listen to people’s views and look at what can be practically achieved during this Senedd term – as well as leaving open the potential for further and more fundamental reforms in the longer term.
“I have been speaking with colleagues in local government, who are of course key partners in delivering what we set out to achieve. It’s important we co-design changes with them as well as work with partners in the Senedd and across Wales to find consensus on reform.
“Changes won’t be brought in immediately and it will be important to focus work on the early building blocks needed for change, including revaluation. I want to achieve meaningful reform, with carefully considered ideas that everyone gets a chance to have a say on.”
This work will be carried out in collaboration with the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group, as part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
Siân Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru Lead Designated Member said: “Plaid Cymru will work closely with the Welsh Government and local government in Wales to reform what is an out of date, regressive and distortionary taxation.
“We have long argued that the current system disproportionately impacts poorer areas and change is long overdue. We look forward to developing a fairer and more progressive system as we put our co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government into action.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Local Government, Sam Rowlands MS, said: “Since the start of devolution, councils in Wales – under Labour Governments – have had to raise council tax by a whopping 188 per cent.
“The devil is always in the detail and this announcement by Labour and Plaid Cymru to reform council tax glosses over a number of areas.
“The last time a revaluation took place in Wales one in three families were hammered by higher bills – and as we recover from the challenges of the pandemic that simply can’t happen again.
“Labour and their coalition buddies in Plaid should use some of extra billions in funding from the UK Government to properly fund local authorities and ensure families are not unjustifiably hit by higher council tax bills in the years to come.”
The Welsh Conservatives have also reiterated their concerns over Plaid Cymru’s opposition status after the party was included in a Welsh Government press release on this matter.
Mr Rowlands added: “I find it incredible that Plaid Cymru still claim to be an opposition party in the Senedd when they are working hand in glove with Labour.
“You either jump into bed with Labour or stay as an opposition party. The integrity of the Senedd hangs in the balance and the Llywydd must take action to protect Welsh democracy.”
A consultation is planned with a view to introducing initial reforms during this Senedd term.
In the last term the Welsh Government removed the threat of imprisonment for non-payment of council tax, created a new exemption for young care-leavers, improved access to discounts for people with severe mental impairments, and launched a national campaign to raise awareness of support including the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government, and the Cooperation Agreement which was adopted last week, both contained commitments to reform council tax to make it fairer.
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