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Axe The Tax

October 3, 2003 4:46 PM

Bedford Liberal Democrats successfully persuaded the Borough Council to support scrapping the Council Tax in an effort to create a fairer system of local taxation such as local income tax.

Members of Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats, some of whom took part in a major demonstration against the Council Tax last week and took to the streets collecting signatures on a petition in the town centre on Saturday, called on the Council to lobby the government for a fairer system of taxation. Currently under the Council Tax system the poorest 20% of pensioners pay nearly 6 times more than the richest 20% of non-pensioners, as a proportion of their income.

Speaking on the issue Lib Dem Deputy Group Leader Christine McHugh said:

"The Council Tax is outdated, unfair and wrong. It is especially unfair for people on low and medium incomes such as pensioners. Last year the state pension increased by just 2.6%. in comparison the borough council tax rose by 5% and next year's is forecast to rise by 30%. How can pensioners be expected to fund these ever spiralling costs?

"A Bedford pensioner living off a pension with a few savings can be asked to pay proportionally more money in Council Tax than the Prime Minister who has a much larger income and lives in a much bigger house. This is what's happening under the present system. Taxation should be linked to a person's ability to pay not unfairly weighted against those least able to pay.

"The present system also grants the government far too much control over how local money is spent. It should be within the powers of local people to decide what issues need to be funded and to what level. We want a system that allows local people to see exactly what their money is spent on and lets local people make real choices.

"It was great to see that the majority of the Council and people in the town centre supported our proposal. Now it remains to be seen if the government will realise that so many people in the borough are fed up with a taxation system that is loaded against them."