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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Welsh problems 'halt tax changes'
Blaenau Gwent
One in three Welsh homes moved up at least one valuation band
Opposition parties claim the delayed revaluation of homes in England for council tax is a result of problems with a similar exercise in Wales.

Ministers have postponed plans to revalue 22 million English homes until after the next election.

The UK government now says it wants English revaluation examined as part of a wider inquiry into council funding.

The assembly government batted off criticism saying council tax in Wales was well below English levels.

Council tax revaluation (in England) based on the Welsh experience will be massively unpopular
Vince Cable, Liberal Democrats

The halt on the revaluation of around 22 million English properties was confirmed on Tuesday, and would have meant higher bills for many households.

Every home in Wales was re-valued in 2003, with the result announced in 2004, and the change came into force for the financial year 2005/06.

A third moved up at least one valuation band and 8% moving down.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats' treasury spokesman, said the UK government had to do something "because council tax revaluation based on the Welsh experience will be massively unpopular".

'Fair and proper'

Mr Cable, who wants the present system replaced with local income tax, said the UK government was "terrified" of the consequences of following the Welsh path.

Tory Glyn Davies, an AM for mid and west Wales, said the assembly government used revaluation as a "cover" to increase council tax by almost 10%.

"So ashamed is the British government of what the Labour government did in Wales that they are forced into a position of cancelling revaluation in England," said Mr Davies.

Mr Davies acknowledged that council tax was still lower in Wales, although he said the gap was closing. He also said council tax system did need periodic revaluation but it had to be "fairly and properly".

In a statement the assembly government said: "Council tax in Wales both before and after revaluation is considerably less than in England.

'Guinea pig'

"We strongly believe that with a property tax like council tax, periodic revaluations are essential to ensure that the system is fair.

"The last revaluation in Wales was some 12 -13 years ago."

Plaid Cymru assembly group leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said that Wales had been used as a "guinea pig" for revaluation.

"Once they (the UK government) saw how horrendous it was in Wales they scrapped it in England," he said.




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