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Labour's council tax snoopers have snapped 1.3 millions pictures of homes

UK Daily Mail | May 28, 2007 

Council tax snoopers have taken more than 1.3million pictures of homes to calculate if their owners should be paying higher bills, official figures revealed.

Government inspectors have taken the photographs of 823,000 properties over the past two years and stored them on an electronic database.

If they show homeowners have added value to their property, such as by building a conservatory, they could be forced to pay more council tax.

Critics said the scheme is part of the Government's "sinister" attempt to cash in on the booming housing market.

Tory housing spokesman Eric Pickles said: "This new evidence proves the privacy and property of honest, law-abiding citizens is under threat from Gordon Brown's greedy hands - and his paparazzi council tax inspectors. I am alarmed that faceless Whitehall bureaucrats are now rolling out a sinister property photo database.

"Not only are civil liberties under threat, but I fear these photos will be used to tax features like conservatories, extensions, gardens and patios."

The figures were quietly slipped out in a parliamentary answer by Treasury Minister John Healey last week.

It is the first time the scale of the operation by inspectors from the Valuation Office Agency has been revealed.

The agency is responsible for revaluing a property when it changes hands, which often means it moves to a higher council tax band. The latest revaluation is the first since 1991.


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