The Leicester Mercury article “Thousands of tax non-payers owe Leicester City Council £21m” (January 27) quoted Councillor Ross Grant as saying: “The council often complains of cuts in its grants but it doesn’t seem to have a grip of getting hold of council tax and business rates.” In reality, it is Cllr Grant who needs to get a grip himself!
Leicester’s lone conservative party opposition member Cllr Grant is an opportunist hypocrite, of that there can be no doubt. It is the current Conservative government that is drastically reducing the tax revenues passed back to Leicester (and all other authorities). Leicester already receive £100 million less in funding each year because of Cllr Ross’ party — with the annual theft soon set to rise to £155 million.
Excluding owed-business rates, the Mercury report noted how only “£13.95 million of council tax was still owed” as of March last year. But more importantly, the paper begrudgingly acknowledges that at the end of the day, the city council actually manages to collect “over 98 per cent” of everything it bills — which is just a touch above the national average.
Needless to say, the primary reason why the Council struggles to collect council tax payments on time is because our city is officially one of the poorest in the country, and so it is often the case that people do not have the disposable income to pay bills on time.
Cllr Grant has no reason or right to point the finger at Leicester’s Labour Council. If he bothered to compare the figures for the amount of uncollected tax in Leicester with that uncollected in one of the wealthiest Tory-run councils, Wokingham, we can see the depth of Tory hypocrisy.
Leicester has a population of approximately 300,000 and has uncollected council tax of £13.95 million (nearly all of which is eventually recouped by debt collectors), while Wokingham has a population of around 30,000 and arrears of £3.9 million. Comparatively speaking, if Wokingham had the same population as Leicester then some £39 million would be owed. So much for the Tories ability to manage their own or the nation’s financial affairs!
Tory cuts are however destroying Labour-controlled cities across the country, so surely now it is time for Labour Councils to wake up to the fact that they have to take a firm political stand by refusing to carry through the Tories’ hypocritical and murderous cuts program.