Lib Dem leader backs fair tax call

LIBERAL Democrat leader Charles Kennedy today backed Evening Star readers calling for a fairer way of collecting money for council services.His party is calling for council tax to be replaced by a local income tax – and many of the coupons returned to us by Star readers have backed that.

By Paul Geater

LIBERAL Democrat leader Charles Kennedy today backed Evening Star readers calling for a fairer way of collecting money for council services.

His party is calling for council tax to be replaced by a local income tax – and many of the coupons returned to us by Star readers have backed that.

Mr Kennedy told the Star it was wrong to base a substantial degree of taxation on property values.


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"We support switching to a local income tax because it is much fairer than council tax or rates," he said.

"It's very interesting to see the comments from your readers – this is clearly something which strikes a chord with many people."

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Mr Kennedy saw the coupons and copies of the newspaper after we took them down to his office at the House of Commons.

"There is no reason why a local income tax should be too complicated to introduce – but the overwhelming argument for it is that it would be fairer.

"I know that there are lots of scarce stories going around about the tax, but the fact is that at least 70 per cent of people would be better off.

"It is only fair that those who can afford to pay more for local services should pay more," he said.

Mr Kennedy and his party are hoping that they may be successful in persuading the government to abolish council tax.

Local government minister Nick Raynsford said the government would be looking at introducing a local income tax as one of the options in its review of council finances.

He said the government was also looking at wholesale changes to council tax and allowing local authorities to keep business rates collected in their areas.

Mr Kennedy praised the Star's coverage of the council tax debate.

"This is regional journalism at its best – highlighting an issue that affects your readers and keeping the pressure up," he said.

"I am sure this year's council tax bills will have prompted many people to take more of an interest in local authorities and what they do.

"If there is any good to come out of these massive council tax rises across the country it is that people are becoming more aware of the importance of council elections and hopefully they will be more keen to take part in these in future."

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