Croydon’s £40m Council Tax arrears make headlines again

Council tax form 4Croydon’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.

Council Tax arrears tableHad 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.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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1 Response to Croydon’s £40m Council Tax arrears make headlines again

  1. jonmajin says:

    I’m not surprised Croydon Council is rubbish at administrating Council Tax collection. I recently moved and duly informed the council, then set up a direct debit online on 14th December.

    But on 14th January Croydon Council sent me a reminder for non-payment. Then told me on the phone that I hadn’t set up the debit – whereas I had an email from them saying I had…!? They seem totally inefficient and incompetent to me.

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