Website ‘spy’ will increase council tax

By Sarah O’Grady

LABOUR claims that it has postponed council tax revaluation in England are today exposed as a sham.

Gordon Brown has continued to authorise a “database state” to increase council tax bills, according to new documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

A contract signed by the Treasury reveals detailed information from nine out of 10 house sales and rentals is logged in a “Big Brother” database to prepare for a revaluation tax hike.

The Government was so concerned about details of the contract leaking out that it forced property website Rightmove, which negotiated for the contract, to sign a secrecy clause.

Almost every revalued home in Wales shot up into a more expensive tax band.

The £6million contract with Rightmove is soon due for renewal.

Revenue & Customs, which has lost millions of personal tax and benefit records, is systematically raiding estate agents’ records to build up a database for its council tax inspectors, the Valuation Office Agency.

Eric Pickles MP, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government, said: “Conservatives will stop this data plundering of people’s private homes, end Brown’s stealth tax revaluation and abolish state inspectors’ rights of entry into our homes.”

Rightmove holds 16million property records, with 3.3million records updated alone in December.

The Rightmove contract reveals why the information is wanted: for revaluation purposes.

The full document can be seen on www.conservatives.com/pdf/Rightmovecontract.pdf.

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The Valuation Office Agency is simply maintaining an accurate council tax valuation list. The powers of the VOA have not changed since the introduction of council tax, by the Conservative government, in 1993.”