This from today’s Evening Standard. On the uncollected Council Tax in London boroughs. Including Croydon’s £35 million.
Inner London Lambeth tops the list. But Croydon is second, and the first outer London borough in the list. Local government minister Grant Shapps calls this “breathtaking incompetence”. It is assumed that Shapps’ condemnation is applied to incompetent Tory councils, such as Croydon, as well as those under Labour authority.
“All the millions could have been diverted to protecting frontline services,” says Shapps. Services such as the weekly bin collections that were promised only last year, like our libraries, or the David Lean Cinema, or the Clocktower Arts Centre, or police officers, the provision of youth services, or the summer music festival in Lloyd Park… The list goes on.
Meanwhile, paying the price for this “breathtaking incompetence” are the council’s staff. The Standard claims that there could be more than 300 job cuts still to come at Croydon Council, in addition to the 200 shed in April.
Of course, MP Gavin Barwell, who until last year was among the Conservative councillors “running” Croydon, has disputed these figures, and defends the likes of Croydon deputy CEO Nathan Elvery, who has boasted that “efficiency is in our DNA”.
A spokesman for Croydon Council trotted out the usual party line to the Standard, “The amount we have outstanding is less than 3 per cent of the £1.5 billion available to collect”, as if that’s all right. It is worth noting that most local authorities, including many in London, operate at a 99 per cent collection rate on Council Tax.
The London School of Economics’ Tony Travers, an academic expert on local councils, reckons that every £60,000 of uncollected Council Tax represents one less person that the council can afford to employ, with the commensurate loss of service. By that reckoning, in the case of Croydon, that’s more than 580 jobs lost because of management’s failure to collect Council Tax.
“Every penny not paid in council tax will mean lower service levels or that other people have to pay higher council tax,” Travers told the Standard. “Every person who pays their council tax will feel cheated by those people who don’t. High non-collection rates need looking at.”
Perhaps Grant Shapps could have a chat with our Gav?
- Croydon hires supersnoops in Council Tax clampdown (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- Secret meetings and council silence over library sell-off scheme (insidecroydon.com)
- The CEO speaks: now council outsources management of staff (insidecroydon.com)