One of the country's leading retailers has called on the Government to scrap plans which could result in green-fingered householders facing higher council tax bills.
Residents who improve their gardens or DIY enthusiasts who push up the value of their property by fitting a new kitchen or bathroom could find themselves out of pocket, according to Midland Tory MP Caroline Spelman.
Ms Spelman (Meriden), the Conservative shadow Local Government Secretary accused the Government of cashing in on the popularity of programmes such as Changing Rooms and Ground Force to penalise people for improving their family homes.
The Tories last night published letters from retailer B&Q to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, urging him to scrap the plans.
One letter says: "An additional stealth tax could put off homeowners improving their homes which would have a negative impact on housing in the long term."
Ms Spelman said: "John Prescott wants to extend the scope of council tax, turning it into a DIY and garden tax."
The Conservatives have obtained details of instructions issued to inspectors who will carry out a revaluation of every home in England.
For the first time, inspectors will take home improvements into account when calculating property values.
It came as two surveys suggested the average council tax increase was set to be an inflation-busting four per cent. The Local Government Association (LGA) analysed 112 councils in England and found bills for band D properties will rise by about £50.
Ministers plan to revalue English properties because council tax bills are based on values from 1991.
The revaluation has been delayed until a review of local government finance, conducted by former Birmingham City Council chief executive Sir Michael Lyons on behalf of the Government, is completed.
Meanwhile, Ministers faced anger over council tax bills that are set to rise by double the rate of inflation this year.
The Government has threatened to cap any council which impose increases higher than five per cent.
But the LGA found some, such as Bromsgrove, had gone to the limit and were planning an increase of 4.99 per cent.
Worcestershire County Council is planning a 4.95 per cent increase, while Warwickshire County Council is planning a 4.93 per cent increase.
Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council, Telford & Wrekin and Staffordshire County Council are planning increases of 4.90 per cent.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said: "Our expectation is that most council tax bills should be below five per cent and, if necessary, we are prepared to use our capping powers."