British Government To Use Space Satellites To Track Home Improvements

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Prescott satellite to spy on your home.
Hi-tech cameras brought in to police home improvements and council tax dodgers
By Marie Woolf, Political Editor Published: 01 January 2006
John Prescott has told tax inspectors to use satellites to snoop on householders' attempts to improve their homes.
Images of new conservatories and garages taken from space will be used to hike up council taxes and other property levies, official guidance obtained by The Independent on Sunday reveals.
Mr Prescott's department is overseeing the creation of a database containing the details of every house in Britain to help tax inspectors to assess new charges.
Even minor improvements, invisible from the road, will be caught by "spy in the sky" technology that uses a mix of aerial and satellite images taken over time to spot changes.
Last night the Tories accused the Deputy Prime Minister of laying the ground for a "new stealth tax on home improvements".
Houses in the country will be particularly targeted. "Aerial photographs are very effective in rural areas where improvements are hard to see from the road," a handbook for property inspectors says.
The Tories warned of a Big Brother-style inspection regime which could see householders forced to reveal every detail of their homes, including the finish of a children's playroom or the type of central heating.
They accused the Government of using satellite technology to spy on families so they can levy stealth taxes.
Caroline Spelman, shadow Secretary of State for Local Government, accused Mr Prescott of invading people's privacy.
"The public have already expressed concern at the prospect of inspectors with cameras entering their homes. Now it appears that the Government will also be using aerial photography to invade people's privacy and lay the ground for a new stealth tax on home improvements," she said. "For many people who need more space but can't afford to move to a bigger house, the answer is to make improvements to their existing home, but it now seems they are going to be penalised for this through council tax hikes. It is catch-22, with home-owners being taxed if they move and taxed if they don't."
The Government is planning to compile a database of every home in Britain, which will include details of how many bedrooms each house has and what kind of roof it has.
Inspectors will look at whether garden sheds have been converted into offices or studios and whether kitchens or porches have been extended. They will even be able to see if a drive has been Tarmacked or a shrubbery extended. The computer system will be used to assess council tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax.
A re-evaluation of property values will take into account home improvements, including extensions and conservatories to assess how much council tax a property should pay.
The Government has delayed re-evaluating property values after widespread concern that it could lead to a massive rise in council tax bills, which would particularly hit pensioners.
But the Government's Valuation Office Agency is still rolling out a "Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal" database across England. So far almost two million homes in England have had "value significant codes" recorded.
John Prescott has told tax inspectors to use satellites to snoop on householders' attempts to improve their homes.
Images of new conservatories and garages taken from space will be used to hike up council taxes and other property levies, official guidance obtained by The Independent on Sunday reveals.
Mr Prescott's department is overseeing the creation of a database containing the details of every house in Britain to help tax inspectors to assess new charges.
Even minor improvements, invisible from the road, will be caught by "spy in the sky" technology that uses a mix of aerial and satellite images taken over time to spot changes.
Last night the Tories accused the Deputy Prime Minister of laying the ground for a "new stealth tax on home improvements".
Houses in the country will be particularly targeted. "Aerial photographs are very effective in rural areas where improvements are hard to see from the road," a handbook for property inspectors says.
The Tories warned of a Big Brother-style inspection regime which could see householders forced to reveal every detail of their homes, including the finish of a children's playroom or the type of central heating.
They accused the Government of using satellite technology to spy on families so they can levy stealth taxes.
Caroline Spelman, shadow Secretary of State for Local Government, accused Mr Prescott of invading people's privacy.
"The public have already expressed concern at the prospect of inspectors with cameras entering their homes. Now it appears that the Government will also be using aerial photography to invade people's privacy and lay the ground for a new stealth tax on home improvements," she said. "For many people who need more space but can't afford to move to a bigger house, the answer is to make improvements to their existing home, but it now seems they are going to be penalised for this through council tax hikes. It is catch-22, with home-owners being taxed if they move and taxed if they don't
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article335970.ece
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If the government's got the money spare to indulge in this sort of nonsense then the British electorate has a lot to answer for.
On the other hand, the best way to defeat such a scheme would simply be to make sure you apply for all the right planning permissions and declare all the stuff you're supposed to declare.
It's a bit like the single foolproof way to beat speed cameras...
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Camo netting over your property.
Actually, this sounds more like something that would be posted on April 1.
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wrote in message

Unfortunately, these days, that's not an April Fool's joke. The government (pick one; pick a country, even) believes that what you get is what you owe, and they want their tax/rental shot at everything we think we own.
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wrote in message

will be bricking in our windows to avoid paying window tax!
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'This lot' will never be kicked out of office. How can they be, when they are the only thing on the menu? They may wear red, or blue, or yellow - but they're still 'this lot'.
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"Ivan" wrote in message

I am surprised that they even need surveillance of any kind. When I was living in England you had to have your TV license plainly visible in a front window and there was no shortage of private citizen busybodies who would walk around looking for people to report ... and that was 40 years ago.
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come round with a ladder and a pair of binoculars, try telling that to the kids today....

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Sorry, but this is nonsense. I've had a TV licence for 50 years and I have never heard of such a thing!!
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"Bob Martin" wrote in message

"Nonsense"? Must be nice to have been so blissfully unaware of what was a notable, ubiquitous practice ... or else you just lived in a more genteel town than Hounslow in the mid 60's.
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Blissfully unaware, my foot! It has NEVER been REQUIRED to display a TV licence as you stated. A few people might have done it where you lived, but I can't comment on that. I checked with my 91-year-old mother and she confirmed my recollections. We lived in a few different areas in the 40s, 50s and 60s so it was nothing to do with where *I* lived.
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"Bob Martin" wrote in message

LOL ... first it "NEVER" happened, then a "few might have done it", but, obviously being the know-it-all you make yourself out to be, you "comment" anyway, even after professing that you can't?
I made it up just to aggravate you, you reckon?
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What's wrong with you? Your first post said one "had to have" a TV licence displayed. This implies legal requirement. When I refuted this you said a few people in your street did it. I said I can't argue with that. Can't you tell the difference?
I don't make myself out to be any sort of authority, but I've lived in England for almost all of my 65 years and I would know if there had ever been any such requirement - there hasn't. I lived in the USA for a year (1970) but I wouldn't presume to argue with an American about what was and what wasn't the norm in that country.
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"Bob Martin" wrote in message

Eh? ... It was _you_ who said that.
You also mentioned something about your "foot" ... removing it from your mouth will begin your path to a more enlightened and humble existence by learning to read before "commenting", particularly since you've already admitted to not being qualified to do so.

Then quit doing so.
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OK, I think I've realised the source of your confusion. All motor vehicles are subject to an annual tax, variously called the road tax or the vehicle licence. Proof of payment is a paper disk, about 4 inches in diameter, which has to be clearly displayed in the vehicle's windscreen. Is this your "front window"?
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This is not new. The local county here started to use satellite imagery to spot unreported home improvements a number of years ago.
I'm not sure why they are doing this as I think the tax assessor has to revisit every house every five years or so.
Brian Elfert
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wrote:

In Texas aerial photographs from an air plane are used to determine square footage for tax reasons.
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Sounds like a good reason for having an anti aircraft gun.

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LOL No kidding.
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On Mon, 02 Jan 2006 15:27:38 GMT, "Leon"

Why? Doesn't the permit that allowed construction in the first place have all that information already? They don't let you build houses around here without any number of permits. And the lot size is already known just from subdividing the neighborhood.
What's to hide in terms of additions and outbuildings? Internal features are 'nother subject......
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