History of Local Taxation

Like many issues in local government, the history of taxation is a long and complex one.

Although the roots of local taxation that go back to pre-medieval days, it was Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries that brought about the ‘Laws for the relief of the Poor' (the Poor Laws)’ in 1601.  Before this, those who were unable to work depended upon the charity of the monasteries.   The Poor Laws specifically placed a duty to raise taxation for the sole purpose of supporting the poor.  By the time of the Industrial revolution it was clear there had to be a change in the operation of the law as there were large scale movements of the population from rural areas to the industrial cities. Whilst this was the genesis of the workhouses movement it marks an important issue that challenges all systems of local taxation:- the transient nature of both the population and the local economy.


Ian Briggs

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