Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) has one of the biggest surpluses in parking charges and fines outside of London—£5.3 million in 2011/12. No one enjoys an unexpected fine or charge, but the high cost of parking fines are, more often than not, out of all proportion to the offences committed. Continue Reading
Essex County Council is set to hike council taxes by 1.49 per cent this year, in order to raise an additional £2.9 million. This means that the Council, which receives 73p in every pound of Council Tax paid by Essex households, has also lost the right to a central government grant available to councils who freeze taxes or keep increases beneath 1 per cent.
Many councils across the country are consulting with local residents on possible Council Tax increases. Nottinghamshire County Council is just completing its consultation called ‘The Budget Challenge 2014/15’. The response rate was good, with over 6000 people completing a form and sending it to the council, and the council has revealed that 45 per cent of respondents favour an increase of 1.99 per cent, rather than an inflation busting and referendum triggering 5 per cent. Continue Reading
Cut National Insurance, raise and align its thresholds and prepare for it to be fully merged into Income Tax, says a new report from the CentreForum think tank:
National Insurance cuts (including employer side) should be prioritised over income tax cuts.
Tax simplification should also be considered when increasing allowances.
The number of separate tax thresholds should be reduced, with the National Insurance allowances in particular aligned with each other and with the Personal Allowance. They should also be annual rather than weekly, and per individual rather than per job. Continue Reading
Long established shops in Bath are closing their doors, thanks in part to continuing high business rates. The latest is bag shop Rickards of Bath in Northumberland Place, serving customers for over 100 years. When it first opened in 1910, it sold bags made by the family in their own factory in the city.
‘Retail has changed dramatically over the last ten years and has become much harder during the recession,’ says Rickards current owners. ‘The increase in online trading, rising overheads and high business rates have all added to our decision.’ Continue Reading