Council tax: Bexhill homes overcharged

ROTHER homeowners may be paying too much council tax due to their home being wrongly banded.

Wednesday, 17th June 2009, 11:34 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 7:58 pm

The Valuation Office Agency, who are responsible for sorting properties into council tax bands, have revealed that 441 homeowners in Rother moved down a band in the last three years following an appeal.

240 homes moved up a band in the same time period.

Local MP Greg Barker is calling the figures "clear evidence of a council tax cover-up" after the information was revealed following the accidental publication of notes from a VOA meeting.

Portions of the notes, which had been blacked out, were able to be read.

David Meecham, a spokesman for the VOA, played down the scale of the problem, saying: "We do think the system is working well in the Rother District and beyond. The VOA is happy to review any banding when there is a good reason to do so but in the last three years the number of alterations to existing bandings, both up and down, has amounted to no more than a fraction of one percent of the 22 million homes across England."

Homeowners can appeal to an independent tribunal if they feel their home is in the wrong council tax band, and subsequent refunds may be backdated to the introduction of council tax in 1993.

Local MP Greg Barker said: "The Government has been caught red-handed fiddling council tax to make local families in Rother pay more.

Whitehall beaurocrats know that many homes across the country are wrongly banded, but have refused to correct the tax inspectors' errors to save the Government money and save face.

"The whole basis of our tax system is undermined if the state consipres to over-charge the public."

Homes in England were valued for council tax in 1991, under John Major's Tory Government. Properties were placed in bands from A to H, based on the estimated value of the property in April 1991.

While homes in Wales have since been revalued, properties in England and Scotland have not.

Previous plans for a revaluation in England, which was scheduled to come into effect on 1 April 2007, were postponed in September 2005.

Asked when residents could expect an up-to-date assessment, David Meecham said: "The Government has made it clear that no revaluation will take place in the life of this Parliament. The Valuation Office Agency continues to maintain the existing council tax lists to ensure new properties are entered into the lists and that it is up to date.

"The circumstances in which a formal appeal can be launched are limited by the legislation governing council tax. Normally you have to do this within six months of first moving into your property. However, the Valuation Office has a wider power to review a band and if there is good reason to believe that it might be incorrect and it is clearly not right it will be corrected."

A spokesman for Rother District Council said: "The Valuation Office Agency is responsible for valuing properties and thus deciding which Council Tax band they fall into. It is not a function of Rother District Council.

"We advise residents who think they may be in the wrong band to contact the listing officer at the local VOA."

If any Rother residents feel they may be paying too much, they can visit www.voa.gov.uk for information on the appeals process, and to check your banding against others in your area.

The local valuations office is based in Eastbourne at St Anne's House, St Anne's Road, on 01323 530000.