Chiswick Councillor Challenges Latest Council Tax Figures
John Todd does not believe Hounslow's 'top-performing' claim
A Chiswick councillor has challenged Hounslow Council's claim that it is amongst the "best performing councils in London" for Council Tax collection.
Earlier this week Hounslow Council announced that it had collected 97.8 per cent of council tax in 2012/13, putting it among the 'best performing councils in London'.
The leader of the Labour-run council, Cllr Jagdish Sharma had described the collection rate last year as "our best ever in Hounslow" and said unlike some councils they did not write off historic debts.
But Councillor John Todd (Cons) has challenged the claim and says that Government-published figures show that on 31.12.12 the average UK council debt per household was £102.
"Hounslow was listed as having the fourth highest outstanding debt with £325 per household -just behind Tower Hamlets. Other local London councils have the following debt figures per household - Hammersmith and Fulham £157, Hillingdon £126, Richmond £123 Westminster £88.
"I'm now advised that this high figure includes historical debts that may be unrecoverable.
"This is an unacceptable explanation given amongst other things that we asked at the Audit Committee about the outstanding debt shown in the LBH accounts some time ago. We will pursue this matter further," he said.
In response to his comments, Cllr Jagdish Sharma, Leader of the council, said: “As a former teacher, I’m used to marking homework, and in this case I think I need to give Cllr Todd a D for his maths. The last few years have seen us collecting more historical debt than ever before - £4.5 million last year, compared to £2.5 million in 2008/09 when his party were in control of the council.
“We have always said we are committed to recovering as much debt as we can, and we don’t write off historical debts like other authorities, going back 20 years.
“Given this was fully explained to him by officers last week, it’s a shame he’s not willing to recognise the good work being done.”
May 21, 2013