Jun 022012

Apparently the government has announced plans to stop charging council tax for those who live in so-called “granny annexes”. The opposition has quite rightly pointed out that this is an interesting position to take as there has long been a council tax exemption for those living in granny annexes who are over 65, or who are impaired in various other ways.

For those not familiar with granny annexes – and this may come as a surprise to many Tories, but not everyone is familiar with the concept – if you have a large enough house, it is possible to set aside part of it as a separate dwelling. Usually to give some member of the family some level of independent living – traditionally used for a live-in grandparent. Thus the term “granny annex”.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to many Tories, but most ordinary hard-working families live in homes where space is at a premium. Indeed having the spare space to create an annex could be a definition of “wealthy”. Or in other words, Tories have come up with a nifty way of giving a tax cut to the wealthy whilst trying (and failing) to sound like they are helping ordinary people.

Or to put it another way, why are we giving council tax exceptions to grannies and disabled people? If someone over the age of 65 lives in their own flat they have to pay council tax, but if they live in an annex in their family’s home, they don’t. I’m not against the idea that those who are somewhat constrained in their income should get some sort of discount on their council tax, but getting a discount because you have rich relatives?

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