Home » No consensus in Gwent on how to improve ‘outdated’ council tax valuations
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No consensus in Gwent on how to improve ‘outdated’ council tax valuations

COUNCILS in south east Wales have offered a striking variety of opinions on plans to reform council tax in Wales.

Three of the five local authorities in the Gwent region said they would favour the most dramatic changes to the way council tax is calculated.

The Welsh Government recently said it will bow to public opinion and defer any reforms until 2028, after a public consultation revealed most respondents preferred a slower timetable for change.

The government believes current council tax valuations are “outdated” and “place an unfair burden” on people living in lower-valued properties.

House prices have changed significantly since the last time the system was updated in Wales, and categorises properties based on their values in April 2003.

The nation’s 22 local authorities were all invited to have their say on the plans to reform council tax.

Three of the Gwent councils – Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Torfaen – prefer the most radical system of “expanded reform” that would add three valuation bands and change the tax rates in each, leading to what the government called “a lot less paid by those in the lowest bands, and more paid by those in the top bands”.

Blaenau Gwent Council said the need for reform was “indisputable” and low-value Band A and B properties make up 83% of the area’s council tax base.

Expanded reform is “the only proposal that redresses that balance of the tax burden across taxpayers in Wales”, it added.

Newport Council said it “broadly supports the move towards a more progressive model of charging council tax” as laid out in the proposal for expanded reform, while Torfaen Council claimed the plan could make council tax “less regressive”.

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But these claims are at odds with Monmouthshire Council’s stance, which is supportive of a policy of “minimal reform” that would retain current valuation bands and the tax rates charged for each.

The government claims this option would be “a small move in the direction of fairness” but would essentially only offer “modest improvement” on the current system.

Monmouthshire Council, however, said it was “generally supportive” of reform but “concerned” taxpayers could be hit hard by more wide-ranging changes.

“At a time of ongoing cost of living pressures, it is feared that these proposals will lead to unintended pockets of poverty,” the council said.

Caerphilly Council, meanwhile, said it preferred a third option of “modest reform” that will retain the nine existing valuation bands but change the tax rates in the same way proposed under the more expanded reform.

It said modest reform would “address the inequality of lower banded properties paying proportionally a higher level of council tax” and “reduce long-standing wealth inequalities created by an unfair system”.

Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen councils all supported the plan to defer reforms until 2028 – the position ultimately taken by the Welsh Government.