Croydon’s Conservative-run council’s failure to collect more than £40 million-worth of Council Tax made it on to the pages of the Daily Wail and The Stun at the weekend, something which, with local elections coming, will have done nothing for the blood pressure of the Tory council’s leader, florid-faced Mike Fisher.
According to reports in the two national papers, Croydon, with £40 million accumulated uncollected Council Tax, is the third-worst local authority in the country. Only the city of Liverpool and inner London Hackney (with £41.8 million) performed worse.
Croydon’s performance, or failure, to perform in this respect has been something which Inside Croydon has reported previously.
The Murdoch-owned Stun opted to play an old tune to a new arrangement, taking the latest Council Tax collection – or non-collection – figures and calculating the “added cost” of this tax burden on those of us who do pay our dues. In Croydon, they reckon that, on average, those of us who do pay our Council Tax have to cough up an extra £271 per year to subsidise those who do not.
Lifting the story, the Wail barely mentioned Croydon, and avoided drawing any conclusions about its performance based on the political policies of those who run the council from their £140 million new headquarters offices.
Had they bothered to go through the cuts of their own paper, to less than two years ago – see the table, right – they would have discovered something very interesting about the recent performance of the councils in London with huge arrears.
In April 2012, when the table was published, Croydon was “only” fifth in the national table. In Liverpool and Hackney, Council tax arrears appear to have got worse.
But the position in other, comparable south London boroughs appears to be improving – and improving at a far quicker rate than in Tory-run Croydon.
Lambeth had greater arrears, at £48 million. Now, Lambeth’s arrears are £38 million, according to the Wail – a reduction of more than 20 per cent in arrears in two years.
Lewisham had arrears of £35.1 million in 2012. The Wail is reporting that Lewisham’s arrears now are £31.8 million – or a reduction of the arrears of more than 10 per cent in two years.
In 2012, according to the Wail’s figures, Croydon’s arrears stood at £42.2 million. Today, that figure is £40 million – a reduction of 5 per cent.
It ought to make every Council Tax-payer in Croydon question why its council is failing to perform anywhere near as well as neighbouring boroughs such as Sutton, Bromley, Lambeth and Lewisham. Why do we continue to pay more and receive less in terms of services?
The notion that local authorities, particularly Labour-run councils, could be doing more to collect Council Tax is a narrative which the ConDem government seems likely to be trotting out repeatedly in the coming months, helped by the Daily Wail and the Murdoch press, largely because the Tory Chancellor, Gideon Osborne, sees councils as an easy target and he intends to cut again at the grant paid to boroughs.
But as long as councils run by Conservatives, such as in Croydon, continue to perform so poorly, it is a narrative which will be exposed for what it is: a buck-passing piece of deceitful political spin.
Coming to Croydon
- STDLCC Screening: Museum Hours, Jan 13
- “Croydon Communities Consortium” meeting, Jan 14
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Jan 16
- Croydon Ramblers, Chelsham walk, Jan 19
- STDLCC Screening: The East, Jan 20
- STDLCC Screening: Winter Nomads, Jan 27
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Feb 3
- Babylon at the Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4-6
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
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