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Local government :: Council tax
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Over 635,000 homes lie empty across the country, 259,000 of which have been vacant for over six months, while the number of homeless people and those on housing waiting lists continue to soar.
Councils can charge 150% council tax on properties that have been empty for two years but many have yet to enforce this policy - and at a maximum levy of £1,000 for even the largest homes it is of little deterrent for the top end of the market.
Meanwhile, some £350 million worth of rotting mansions are sitting vacant on just one street - 'billionaire's row' - in north London, mainly owned by overseas investors.
Government cuts will mean a further two million low-income families will face higher council tax bills in April. This is in addition to 2.4 million low-income households who have seen their council tax support cut in the last two years. They too will have to pay more as local councils (many Labour run) simply pass on the Tory cuts.
Meeting residential costs isn't a problem for scandal hit prince Andrew - who was living in a £22,000 a week luxury Swiss chalet when the media storm broke.
Andy receives £249,000 a year from mum and he also gets some help paying the bills from his pals - for instance Timur Kuulibayev, son-in-law of the Kazakhstan dictator Nazarbayev. Timur generously paid £15 million for Andy's old country pile in Sunninghill Park - £3 million above the asking price.
Air pollution from motor vehicle emissions and industry is a major killer, causing 400,000 premature deaths in Europe - 29,000 in the UK alone.
Prime Minister David Cameron's shameless promotion of big business profits ahead of people's health has already landed the UK government in the European Court of Justice for exceeding air pollution limits.
However, it seemed that the PM received an early Christmas present when it was revealed in late December that the European Commission had, after lobbying by the capitalist 'Business Europe' association, secretly agreed to ditch a new, tougher, air quality bill.
Cameron's environmental credentials - 'get rid of all the green crap' - are looking even more threadbare after Greenpeace pointed out that the government has provided £1.7 billion to 'big oil' to finance fossil fuel projects around the world.
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Civil service cuts (1)
Council tax (63)
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Article dated 7 January 2015
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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