Important story about Council Tax in today's Western Mail by Martin Shipton - the re banding by stealth of properties in Wales. It seems that 24,000 have been re-revalued, following the 2005 Wales wide revaluation. Very often, these sort of stories are not hugely significant - but I think this one could be. There's a bit of background here of course. The revaluation of 2005 was controversial, because the total Council Tax 'take' went up by around 9% 'under its cover' - after the Minister had assured everyone beforehand that it would be a 'revenue neutral' exercise. And the equivalent revaluation in England was cancelled before the last election. Over 30% of properties were revalued upwards, and only 8% were revalued downwards.
Martin's article included a response from a Valuation Office Agency spokesman which reinforced the story. "We have a statutory duty to maintain the list of Council Tax bandings.....this is maintaining accurate and fair Council Tax bands in the interests of fairness". Now revaluations do take place all the time, as a result of appeals and property extensions. Since 2005, there have been 702 upwards revaluations and 645 downwards. But in the case highlighted in the article, 40 properties were revalued upwards as the result of the Valuation Office visiting one house. This is, in effect another revaluation.
If we are to have another revaluation in Wales, people should be told about it. I wouldn't be in favour of it, mainly because of the way it was used to conceal a big rise in Council Tax last time around. Well done the Western Mail for giving this issue some big coverage. Several comments from a Plaid Cymru Councillor, Gwenllian Lansdown were included. Perhaps she could have a word with the Assembly Coalition Government, in which her Party is a partner, who could have a word with the Valuation Office Agency to ask exactly what is going on.