06 July 2020

Think tank calls for sweeping reforms to local taxes

A group of former Treasury special advisers have called for revaluation of the council tax and reform of  business rates to boost the economy post-COVID-19.

The ex-advisers, part of a centre right think-tank called Onward, call for ‘sweeping reform of the tax system in particular reforming business and property taxes including council tax revaluation.’ The last valuation was in 1991 and it has been prostponed by successivew governments ever since.

In their report, Bouncing Back, the authors call for new fiscal rules targeting debt falling as a percentage of GDP by 2025. They argue that ‘politically, there is no mandate for a course of action that looks like reducing public spending on essential services such as the NHS’ but also stress that ‘a radical vision for permanently and radically bigger government was rejected by the electorate in December.’

They add that ‘spending on debt interest has also fallen significantly over the last three decades, down to around 3.5% of tax receipts and projected to fall further – compared to around 10% at the start of the 1980s or 1960s (when debt to GDP was last at 100%) and close to 7% after the financial crisis.’’

They also want young people to have the option to ‘earn, learn or serve,’ the last being ‘service towards social and environmental causes in their community, employed by local authorities, housing associations, public services, charities and community organisations.’ The athors say spending on further education colleges should be doubled.

The authors include Adam Memon, former special adviser and head of economic policy to Sajid Javid as Chancellor, Neil Brien MP, former economic adviser to George Osborne as Chancellor, Mats Persson, former special adviser to David Cameron as Prime Minister and Tim Pitt, former senior adviser to Philip Hammond as Chancellor.

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