The political battle ground of the early 90s was local taxation, the money you paid your council each month. The government set about abolishing the local government tax with what it called Community Charge or more affectionally known as ‘The Poll Tax’
The old system was a tax method based on the house, irrespective of how many adults where living in the house, there was only ever one tax bill.
Taxation per head – The Poll Tax method
The Poll Tax was a fixed amount of tax per adult resident. Local councils set this rate. Students did not have to pay nor did the unemployed. The plan was part of the alternatives to domestic rate taxation that had been brewing since the mid-1970s.
The abolishing of Rates
Rates depended on the value of the home. The new system made things more equal, but was it? Folks with less disposable income did not quite see the level playing field being so level as they were forced to pay a higher proportion of disposable income than those more able to pay. The backlash begun when certain parts of the public refused to pay the tax. They formed anti-poll tax movements, they also mobilised Poll tax riots and heavy political opposition from the labour party begun. The country did not like the Tax, but it was not enough for it to unseat the Tories from power at the next General Election as John Major regained power for the Tories.
Poll Tax another What If
The only comment to make about the Poll Tax is that the idea perhaps had some basis, but was flawed in execution. Implementing a crippling household, local tax bill by double was short-sighted. We are now living in times of multiple occupancies and shared living. Multiple occupancy housing really boomed across the country as Britain produced jobs at an astonishing rate and the enlargement of the EU saw a rising population. but is it right that a house that occupies 5-6 or even more working adults pays the same council tax bill as one elderly pensioner. A tax against working adults perhaps had some legs but like all changes the outcome always seems to be a levelling up of cost, with more losers than winners.
Losing votes and the Poll Tax was history
Labour leader Kinnock stated if they voted him in power he would abolish the Poll Tax which was a much disliked local tax system. Thatcher won by a narrow margin, why did Neil Kinnock not win that election when Labour was for some time during the campaign ahead in the polls – that is one for another blog post. It took time for Council tax to phase in the Poll Tax 1993-94 but they quickly removed it from the public conscious as they derided it as a past and distant mistake.