The garden tax

If you've got green fingers, a dog kennel or a fish pond, you may find yourself faced with higher council tax bills
Click to follow
Indy Politics

The garden tax is about to arrive. The Tories have accused the Government of planning to penalise keen gardeners and preparing a "stealth tax on pets".

Ministers have admitted that features such as a fish pond, an animal hutch or an "attractive flower arrangement" will be considered by inspectors assessing how much council tax households should pay.

Caroline Spelman, shadow Secretary for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, said: "We already know that Labour's revaluation is under way by stealth. The Government is looking to hike up council tax bills any way it can - taking into account garages, greenhouses or whether you have a nice view, to push homes into a higher band," she said.

"Now it looks as if they are refusing to rule out whether they'll be taxing you on your vegetable patch or animal hutch."

In replies to parliamentary questions, ministers said that it would be up to the discretion of the valuer to decide if hutches, kennels and vegetable patches should be considered.

The Government has already admitted that inspectors will be looking at whether garden sheds have been converted into offices or studios and whether conservatories have been built.

It delayed re-evaluating property values after widespread concern that it could lead to a massive rise in council tax bills, and inspectors are still drawing up assessments of how much each property in England is worth.

The Government's Valuation Office Agency, which puts a price on homes, is rolling out a computer-assisted mass appraisal database across England.

Inspectors record details of each home, including how many bedrooms and what kind of roof it has.

The Government said there were no "new taxes" being introduced.

"The current valuation takes into account all the elements that make up the value of a home," said a spokesman.