Local Authorities by John Szepietowski

There is an extraordinary situation in the UK at present where local authorities have not only been given extra ordinary powers to snoop on its residents, but also to raise additional revenues from activities which previously had been considered as part of the remit of these local authorities in carrying out the duties of a local administration.

Such an example is the cost of making a planning application. It is not until someone actually makes such an application that you come up against the real cost of extending or building a house.

Referred to as section 106 agreements, a local authority is empowered by Central Government to levy extra ordinary charges on any resident wishing to carry out building works. These charges are arrived at by a complex algorithm and justified by stating that this cost is the contribution towards affordable housing, and that amount is towards education etc etc. The reality is that these payments are just another form of local taxes. My fear and concern is that these sums are not ring fenced but can be made available into the general coffers of the local authority and could be used towards funding the shortfall of these bureaucrats pensions.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, these ingenious local authority bureaucrats are coming up with ever more inventive ways of increasing the taxes upon the local population in the form of Community Infrastructure Levy or CIL.

The CIL is an addition financial burden upon the builder or developer with the simple result of taxing to breaking point anyone wishing to improve their property, or supposedly help the government shortfall on providing additional housing stock.

These potential additional contributions are calculated according to various criteria, and in the case of Elmbridge Borough Council, are arrived at by an online complex spreadsheet which will kindly calculate the payments for you. These can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds for the larger houses, or just tens of thousands for a smaller house.

How is it that these local authorities can be allowed to get away with this punitive form of taxation which will now reduce home owners extending their homes or fulfilling their drams of building their own home?

Surely a case of no longer the dog wagging the tail, but the tail wagging the dog!