PROPOSALS for reforming council tax have prompted a hostile reaction in Huddersfield.
Estate agents, councillors and pensioners' groups have given a firm thumbs-down to plans to change council tax bandings.
The suggestions were raised in a report, the Balance of Funding Review, which was presented to the Government today.
Reports at the weekend suggested that proposals to revamp the current house value banding system would result in huge rises in bills.
Angry protesters hit out, saying the value of people's homes does not reflect their income.
Janet Cocker, of Age Concern Kirklees, said: "Many older people live in homes that are in high bands but are on low fixed incomes.
"They are asset rich but cash poor.
"We may be better with taxation that takes account of people's ability to pay."
Paul Keighley, residential sales manager at Huddersfield estate agent Bramleys, warned that people who cannot afford the council tax rises could be forced to sell their homes.
He said: "The average house price in Huddersfield is £135,000 to £140,000. Most three-bedroomed houses are worth that or more.
"My house now is worth £250,000. It is in Band E, which in 1991 was £88,000 to £120,000. If they changed the bands, at today's prices, they would get a lot more tax from me.
"So it won't just affect well off people, but ordinary working class families. It could cause people to have to sell their houses, which would flood the market and cause property to reduce in price. It would have serious consequences for the housing market."
The report also examines the possibility of varying council tax bandings by region.
Clr Kath Pinnock, leader of Kirklees Council, said this was risky.
She said: "I would be very nervous about seeing regionalisation because there are pockets of high prices and low prices within one council district."
Clr Pinnock, a Liberal Democrat, said her party supported the scrapping of council tax.
Instead, they want to see local authorities funded by a local income tax.
She said: "It would relate to how much people actually earn.
"We would still raise the amount locally.
"About 70% of people in Kirklees would be better off. Some people would pay more, like myself, but that's fair if they earn more.
"The current system is fundamentally flawed and needs radical change."
Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford stressed that report is from an outside agency.
He said: "Speculation that the Government is planning a council tax shake-up that will lead to huge rises in council tax is simply untrue.
"All this paper includes is a range of options which need to be examined much further."