Friday, September 30, 2011

The first ten

The first ten results from the survey of Council Tax summons and liability order costs are in and processed, shown in the table above. The figures relate to the financial year 2010/11. Fees are those prevailing at the time – many have increased since.

What comes over is the huge range of results, even in this very small sample. The outright leader is Bradford MDC, sending out 48,577 summonses and charging over £3.2 million, compared with Craven with 1,432 summonses, charging £95,680.

In relative terms, though, when expressed as a ratio of summonses sent compared with the number of households, Bradford is still leader of the pack. It sends summonses to one in four households – four times as many, pro rata, as the lowest scorer, Craven District Council. Just to emphasise this, one in four households in Bradford get a summons - at £55 each. This is not debt recovery. It is big business.

Interestingly, Calderdale, the second-highest charger – in relative terms (joint second with Ipswich) is also a West Yorkshire Council, charging £1.2 million – almost as much as the London Borough of Bromley, which has fifty percent more households. It will be instructive to see what the other W. Yorks councils are doing.

As well as the range in the numbers of summonses, there is a huge discrepancy in fees charged, ranging from £57 at the lowest (although this has gone up), to £100 in Ipswich. Given that this is supposed to be based on actual costs incurred – which must be broadly similar – there is no obvious reason why this should be so.

To remind readers of the question, this is below. For most local authorities, all it takes is an e-mail. None have so far refused to answer, and there is no charge.
Please supply information on the number of Summonses and Liability Orders issued by the Council in respect of Council Tax, for each of the financial years since April 1992 to the present, itemised separately by year and document type, and the total fees charged for each year (specifically for the two documents), again itemised separately by year and document type.
More results are coming in, at a fairly steady rate, and I will post them on the blog – with a commentary – as and when I have processed them. I should imagine that, as more results come in, the rankings will change, but we have a long way to go with 326 English authorities to look at.