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Westminster planning to ask £10m property owners to pay more council tax

PUBLISHED: 09:47 05 October 2017

Westminster Council has announced plans to ask owners of properties worth £10m or more to pay extra council tax. Picture: ARCHANT

Westminster Council has announced plans to ask owners of properties worth £10m or more to pay extra council tax. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Westminster Council plans to launch a voluntary ‘mansion tax’ on homes worth £10 million or more.

Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken says there is more the authority can do to help families struggling to pay bills. Picture: WESTMINSTER CITY COUNCILWestminster Council leader Nickie Aiken says there is more the authority can do to help families struggling to pay bills. Picture: WESTMINSTER CITY COUNCIL

Under the scheme occupants of about 2,000 of the properties, dubbed “super prime”, would be asked if they want to pay an additional £1,376, about double the current council tax charge for a Band H property.

The council estimates the move would raise £2.75m and enable it to freeze council tax bills for payers in all other bands.

Council leader cllr Nickie Aiken said: “Westminster is home to some of the poorest and richest people in the country and some of the most expensive real estate in the world. But while there is a reality to the cost of living in a capital, this is a council and a government committed to fairness. There is more we can do to help those who are struggling to pay the bills.”

She added there was no appetite from central government to revaluate council tax, but the council believes it has come up with a method which will allow the well-off to voluntarily help people just about managing.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck has called on Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken to make it clear how the authority will spend the £2.75m which might be raised from asking owners of £10m properties to voluntarily pay extra council tax. Picture: KAREN BUCKWestminster North MP Karen Buck has called on Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken to make it clear how the authority will spend the £2.75m which might be raised from asking owners of £10m properties to voluntarily pay extra council tax. Picture: KAREN BUCK

“This scheme might have its cynics, but I have spoken to very wealthy people who want to help the borough more,” Aiken said.

This month Westminster plans to consult residents in 15,000 £10m plus Band H properties on whether they would be prepared to cough up the extra payment and by how much.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck questioned how successful the plan would be.

“If it generates money within the present constraints then we will be happy to have the funds to help the growing crisis in local services. But I’m very sceptical about whether they will raise the money they say they will. Central government funding has been cut by just under a half, one of the biggest cuts in the country.”

Ms Buck called on cllr Aiken to make it clear how the money raised would be spent after the leader said in a BBC interview the money would go towards services.

“You can’t rely on voluntary contributions to fund vital services. High value property is still taxed less than in other major cities. We have to look hard at fairer contributions which don’t penalise people,” she said.

The experiment – the first of its kind in the UK – would come into force in April 2018. But without approval from parliament the council would lack the power to force people to pay.

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