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Inside Croydon still wrong on Council Tax collection
03/04/2011 07:45:00

Inside Croydon has returned to the issue of Council Tax collection.

I was hoping that once I sent them the full CIPFA data we would get an apology, an acknowledgement that Croydon is not the worst-performing council in the country and a sensible debate based around the undisputed facts that Croydon's performance has improved since the Conservatives took control but is still only average for London (and, as Inside Croydon fairly points out, is below its own targets).

Alas, they're still using the £40.2 million figure, which as I have point out repeatedly, is not the amount of uncollected Council Tax. To back up this claim, they include two links.

The first is to a Government website but when you follow the link the figure isn't there. Now that's magic!

The second is...cue drumroll...to the Daily Express. Wow.

But the piece de resistance is when they refer to a figure that I suggested to them was the fairest way to compare historical performance, namely the cumulative arrears as a percentage of what was due to be collected in 2009/10. The figure for Croydon is 20.4%. Inside Croydon says "What this means is that £1 in every £5 of Council Tax remains uncollected in Croydon".

Er, no.

What this means is you are either deliberately misleading people or don't understand percentages.

Given that later in the article, they cite the collection rates for each individual year, which don't take account of any money recovered subsequently and which are all above 90%, it should probably have occured to them that £1 in every £5 couldn't be outstanding.

The 20.4% figure is the amount outstanding since Council Tax was introduced as a percentage of what was due to be collected in the most recent year ie many years' worth of arrears as a percentage of one year's worth of liability. If you want to work out how much Council Tax remains uncollected since the tax was introduced, you need to work out the cumulative arrears as a percentage of what was due to be collected over all those years. The answer, assuming Inside Croydon is interested in the truth, is about £1 in every £40.

At its best, Inside Croydon is a really good source of local news; at its worst, it is a highly partisan political attack site. Croydon could really do with the former; it doesn't need the latter.

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