Luton’s Liberal Democrat Opposition exposed today the true level of Labour’s Council crisis in failing to collect the Council Tax.
When asking for support in their Election Manifesto last year, Council Leader Hazel Simmons and her team told voters: “We believe everyone should contribute towards the running of the local community. We will chase those who can but won’t pay.”
But in stark contrast to this statement, Labour’s first year back in control at the Council has brought the lowest Council Tax collection rate in Luton this Century.
Detailed Liberal Democrat enquiries about the abysmal performance have revealed that:
16,465 Council Tax accounts were not paid in full last year
This represents 21% of the nearly 75,000 bills issued – over one in five households
£4.8 million of Council Tax due in 2007/8 was NOT collected by the end of the year
Over a quarter of this amount was from people not paying since April 2007
The average amount that people owed was £289 – around 3 months arrears
Luton is set to be at the bottom of the league nationally for Council Tax collection, with a twelfth of the total Council Tax amount due last year (8.3%) going uncollected
Liberal Democrat Finance spokesperson, Cllr Martin Pantling, comments; “While residents are now having to pay Labour’s above-average Council Tax rise, Labour themselves couldn’t even be bothered to get last year’s money in. The amount uncollected equates to a month’s worth of Council Tax for every resident.”
“Failing to collect Council Tax on this scale is unprecedented. It shows a level of incompetence and financial mismanagement that brings shame to the Council and gives the town a bad name. It’s also hugely unfair on those who do struggle to pay.”