ITV programme saved council tax payers thousands

An ITV documentary hosted by News at Ten presenter Sir Trevor McDonald a year ago has resulted in more than 300 Oxfordshire homeowners reclaiming council tax on incorrectly assessed properties.

The Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme, shown last January, revealed that thousands of homes were in the wrong council tax band following inaccurate valuations carried out in 1991.

The successful appeals resulting from the programme have hit local councils’ budgets hard, both in repayments to residents who were over-charged since 1993 and reduced revenues on future council tax, the Oxford Mail reports.

The programme, which explained how to check properties’ tax band on the Internet, may have had similar effects in local authorities around the country.

“If Oxford is typical, it seems to have been a very important programme,” Oxford City Council’s executive member for finance, Jim Campbell, told the newspaper.

The councils told the Oxford Mail the corrected error would lead to budget shortfalls this year. Oxford City Council warned that the appeals could mean it has £200,000 less from council tax than first estimated. Oxfordshire County Council said it would lose £1.8 million in revenue from homes being moved into lower tax bands.

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