You have your say on Brighton and Hove's great tax debate

Neil Vowles with some of the postal votes

Neil Vowles with some of the postal votes

First published in News by

We asked Argus readers to make their voices heard on the council tax debate and you have responded in your droves.

The Argus received dozens more forms yesterday as the council tax conversation hots up.

Key political figures, grassroots representative and ordinary residents are all expected to attend The Argus Council Tax Debate in Hove Town Hall at 7pm tomorrow.

With all three parties having conflicting proposals for the upcoming budget, the debate between council leader Jason Kitcat, Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald and Labour leader Warren Morgan is sure to be fiercely contested.

Yesterday, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that a new public record of how councillors vote on their budget will be introduced.

New regulations put before Parliament require councils to publish, as a matter of record, how each councillor votes on any budget decisions including council tax changes.

The Argus has been praised for taking the initiative in holding a public debate on the budget ahead of |two crunch council meetings later this month.

Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby said: “Politicians are elected to make decisions on behalf of the people’s who live in the city and The Argus does a good job making that process more transparent.”

Chris Cooke, chair of St James’s Community Action Group, said: It’s really important for Joe Public to have his say.”

With the Green administration proposing a 4.75% rise, Labour a 2% rise and Conservatives advocating a freeze, figures across the city have been having their say.

Carol Lynn from Coldean Residents Association said: “I am not happy with the 4.75% increase. It is double what the Government is saying.”

Chris Todd of Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth said he hoped that the pursuit of budget savings would not stop the council from investing in projects that reduce long-term costs.

He said: “They might be cycle lanes, walking routes or access to green space, investments that will improve people’s health and in the end reduce the burden on the NHS which still comes out of the public purse.”

Valerie Paynter from Save Hove said: “I think that everyone will say the Greens are out of their mind and will want to keep it at a 2% increase or less.”

Selma Montford, from the Brighton Society, said the rise could be “crippling” for some.

Emma McGarthy was out and about speaking to city residents on the street yesterday.

Danielle Sharp, 24, said: “Why should we pay more tax when we had to go three weeks without having the bins collected?”

Brian Godfrey, 64, added: “Where is the council money going?

“There’s lots of things that could be done and aren’t being done.”

To send your questions for The Argus debate email neil.vowles@theargus.co.uk or post them to Neil Vowles, Argus House, Crowhurst Road, Brighton BN1 8AR.

Please include your name, address, which leader your question is addressed to, or all three.

Comments (11)

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1:44pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Valerie Paynter says...

The time has come to consider what services people think are indispensable and what a council should be there to provide. What services are people prepared to see dumped? I do not believe the proposed increase is just about the social services budget.

What is the 2/3 not spent on social services going on? How many people even know? One-way outward spending goes on education, rents, rates & council tax collection, roads, refuse collection, parks & gardens, libraries, planning but what else? Those are core to my mind.

Council housing is paid for by rents, planning is paid for by those putting in planning applications....but the planning strategy part is council funded.

Do we really need the council to be about food advice? Buses were once council provided. No more. How has local government changed over the last century or so? We need a major rethink about this.
The time has come to consider what services people think are indispensable and what a council should be there to provide. What services are people prepared to see dumped? I do not believe the proposed increase is just about the social services budget. What is the 2/3 not spent on social services going on? How many people even know? One-way outward spending goes on education, rents, rates & council tax collection, roads, refuse collection, parks & gardens, libraries, planning but what else? Those are core to my mind. Council housing is paid for by rents, planning is paid for by those putting in planning applications....but the planning strategy part is council funded. Do we really need the council to be about food advice? Buses were once council provided. No more. How has local government changed over the last century or so? We need a major rethink about this. Valerie Paynter
  • Score: 17

2:23pm Wed 5 Feb 14

frogadoo says...

If the council wouldn't have had to raise CT if they hadn't wasted so much money on flooding the city with cycle lanes, for the cyclists to then continue using the roads & promenade etc.
If the council wouldn't have had to raise CT if they hadn't wasted so much money on flooding the city with cycle lanes, for the cyclists to then continue using the roads & promenade etc. frogadoo
  • Score: 8

3:17pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Drew18 says...

frogadoo wrote:
If the council wouldn't have had to raise CT if they hadn't wasted so much money on flooding the city with cycle lanes, for the cyclists to then continue using the roads & promenade etc.
Council budgets are ring fenced. This means money set aside for roadworks can't by law be spent on things like adult social care. Anyway most of the cycle lane money came from external transport grants not local tax payers.
[quote][p][bold]frogadoo[/bold] wrote: If the council wouldn't have had to raise CT if they hadn't wasted so much money on flooding the city with cycle lanes, for the cyclists to then continue using the roads & promenade etc.[/p][/quote]Council budgets are ring fenced. This means money set aside for roadworks can't by law be spent on things like adult social care. Anyway most of the cycle lane money came from external transport grants not local tax payers. Drew18
  • Score: -13

3:52pm Wed 5 Feb 14

westpiergone says...

The money should be used for a firing sqaud for kitty-crap & the rest of his goons !
The money should be used for a firing sqaud for kitty-crap & the rest of his goons ! westpiergone
  • Score: 10

4:26pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Thay Qon U says...

The budget gap is not just about expenditure- BHCC are also failing to hit their own targets for the collection income from both Council Tax and Business Rates.

The Council Tax collection is currently 1.29% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.5m in income this year.

Business Rates collection is currently 1.42% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.42m, of which half is a loss to BHCC as the income from Business Rates is shared with 'Whitehall'.

So overall a failure to collect local income this year to BHCC of some £2.2m against their target/budget - those uncollected, local funds almost equal the £2.475m that the Green Party (HJarrs) state will be needed to protect Social Care funding; the gap of £275K gets even closer if you use the £230K proposed to be spent on the Council Tax Referendum.

Perhaps the Green Party Councillors will set an example and forgo their Member's Allowances to make up the £45K gap in order to protect the Social Care priority funding?
The budget gap is not just about expenditure- BHCC are also failing to hit their own targets for the collection income from both Council Tax and Business Rates. The Council Tax collection is currently 1.29% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.5m in income this year. Business Rates collection is currently 1.42% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.42m, of which half is a loss to BHCC as the income from Business Rates is shared with 'Whitehall'. So overall a failure to collect local income this year to BHCC of some £2.2m against their target/budget - those uncollected, local funds almost equal the £2.475m that the Green Party (HJarrs) state will be needed to protect Social Care funding; the gap of £275K gets even closer if you use the £230K proposed to be spent on the Council Tax Referendum. Perhaps the Green Party Councillors will set an example and forgo their Member's Allowances to make up the £45K gap in order to protect the Social Care priority funding? Thay Qon U
  • Score: 11

5:09pm Wed 5 Feb 14

wexler53 says...

This is not complicated...

The greens are the most unpopular set of incompetents ever to run the council. The vast majority of taxpayers do not want their proposed 4.75% increase, and Most of us want them to clear off now.

That leaves Labour's +2% or the Conservative 0% plus the government grant that goes with it.

Either way saves £230000 on a stupid referendum that will only tell us what we know already.

We need the greens out followed by a financial review to ensure financial probity and accountability within the council, along with a raft of local correctly costed and efficiently provided services.
This is not complicated... The greens are the most unpopular set of incompetents ever to run the council. The vast majority of taxpayers do not want their proposed 4.75% increase, and Most of us want them to clear off now. That leaves Labour's +2% or the Conservative 0% plus the government grant that goes with it. Either way saves £230000 on a stupid referendum that will only tell us what we know already. We need the greens out followed by a financial review to ensure financial probity and accountability within the council, along with a raft of local correctly costed and efficiently provided services. wexler53
  • Score: 10

5:10pm Wed 5 Feb 14

KarenT says...

Computer says "no".
Computer says "no". KarenT
  • Score: 5

5:39pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Drew18 says...

Thay Qon U wrote:
The budget gap is not just about expenditure- BHCC are also failing to hit their own targets for the collection income from both Council Tax and Business Rates.

The Council Tax collection is currently 1.29% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.5m in income this year.

Business Rates collection is currently 1.42% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.42m, of which half is a loss to BHCC as the income from Business Rates is shared with 'Whitehall'.

So overall a failure to collect local income this year to BHCC of some £2.2m against their target/budget - those uncollected, local funds almost equal the £2.475m that the Green Party (HJarrs) state will be needed to protect Social Care funding; the gap of £275K gets even closer if you use the £230K proposed to be spent on the Council Tax Referendum.

Perhaps the Green Party Councillors will set an example and forgo their Member's Allowances to make up the £45K gap in order to protect the Social Care priority funding?
Below target collection rates is a national problem. Do you have figures for losses in comparable councils or during Brighton & Hove's previous administrations?
[quote][p][bold]Thay Qon U[/bold] wrote: The budget gap is not just about expenditure- BHCC are also failing to hit their own targets for the collection income from both Council Tax and Business Rates. The Council Tax collection is currently 1.29% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.5m in income this year. Business Rates collection is currently 1.42% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.42m, of which half is a loss to BHCC as the income from Business Rates is shared with 'Whitehall'. So overall a failure to collect local income this year to BHCC of some £2.2m against their target/budget - those uncollected, local funds almost equal the £2.475m that the Green Party (HJarrs) state will be needed to protect Social Care funding; the gap of £275K gets even closer if you use the £230K proposed to be spent on the Council Tax Referendum. Perhaps the Green Party Councillors will set an example and forgo their Member's Allowances to make up the £45K gap in order to protect the Social Care priority funding?[/p][/quote]Below target collection rates is a national problem. Do you have figures for losses in comparable councils or during Brighton & Hove's previous administrations? Drew18
  • Score: -5

6:02pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Thay Qon U says...

Drew18 wrote:
Thay Qon U wrote:
The budget gap is not just about expenditure- BHCC are also failing to hit their own targets for the collection income from both Council Tax and Business Rates.

The Council Tax collection is currently 1.29% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.5m in income this year.

Business Rates collection is currently 1.42% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.42m, of which half is a loss to BHCC as the income from Business Rates is shared with 'Whitehall'.

So overall a failure to collect local income this year to BHCC of some £2.2m against their target/budget - those uncollected, local funds almost equal the £2.475m that the Green Party (HJarrs) state will be needed to protect Social Care funding; the gap of £275K gets even closer if you use the £230K proposed to be spent on the Council Tax Referendum.

Perhaps the Green Party Councillors will set an example and forgo their Member's Allowances to make up the £45K gap in order to protect the Social Care priority funding?
Below target collection rates is a national problem. Do you have figures for losses in comparable councils or during Brighton & Hove's previous administrations?
I do have the figures for BHCC- http://www.brighton-
hove.gov.uk/content/
council-tax-and-bene
fits/council-tax/mon
thly-collection-rate
s

BHCC has reduced its own monthly collection targets this financial year compared with 2012-13 and is still not hitting those reduced targets.

Perhaps you can reciprocate and support your contention that "below target collection rates is a national problem" by supplying the collection figures for other councils for this financial year, 2013-14, to date?
[quote][p][bold]Drew18[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Thay Qon U[/bold] wrote: The budget gap is not just about expenditure- BHCC are also failing to hit their own targets for the collection income from both Council Tax and Business Rates. The Council Tax collection is currently 1.29% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.5m in income this year. Business Rates collection is currently 1.42% below their own target meaning a loss of some £1.42m, of which half is a loss to BHCC as the income from Business Rates is shared with 'Whitehall'. So overall a failure to collect local income this year to BHCC of some £2.2m against their target/budget - those uncollected, local funds almost equal the £2.475m that the Green Party (HJarrs) state will be needed to protect Social Care funding; the gap of £275K gets even closer if you use the £230K proposed to be spent on the Council Tax Referendum. Perhaps the Green Party Councillors will set an example and forgo their Member's Allowances to make up the £45K gap in order to protect the Social Care priority funding?[/p][/quote]Below target collection rates is a national problem. Do you have figures for losses in comparable councils or during Brighton & Hove's previous administrations?[/p][/quote]I do have the figures for BHCC- http://www.brighton- hove.gov.uk/content/ council-tax-and-bene fits/council-tax/mon thly-collection-rate s BHCC has reduced its own monthly collection targets this financial year compared with 2012-13 and is still not hitting those reduced targets. Perhaps you can reciprocate and support your contention that "below target collection rates is a national problem" by supplying the collection figures for other councils for this financial year, 2013-14, to date? Thay Qon U
  • Score: 1

7:05pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Drew18 says...

On these figures collection rate under Greens is comparable or an improvement on collection under Tory administration. If you speak to council tax staff they will tell you how much work has been done to try and improve collection.

How have you translated % into actual £ lost?

Here's some info on national picture:

Table 7: Council tax arrears and write-offs : 2008-09 to 2012-13
£ million
2008-09 2009-10 20
10-11 2011-12 2012-1
3
Arrears for earlier years brought forward on 1 April (a)
2,026 2,157 2,244 2,
310 2,344
add
Net adjustments made in year to arrears included in the Net Collectable Debit for earlier years -37 -32 -31 -9
-22
Arrears relating to earlier years before write-offs in current year 1,989 2,125 2,2
13 2,301 2,322

less
Amount collected in year relating to arrears for earlier years
427 440 472 471 474

Amounts written-off in year relating to earlier years
154 155 140 164 162

equals
Arrears in respect of earlier years as at 31 March 1,407 1,531 1,
601 1,666 1,685

Amounts not collected in current year 781 724 701 696
698
Amount written off in year relating to current year 9 13 7 7 7
Total arrears in respect of current year outstanding as at 31 March 772 711 694 68
9 691

Total Arrears outstanding as at 31 March (a) 2,179 2,242 2,29
5 2,355 2,376

Court and administration costs included Total Arrears above 159 163 195 19
9 209

Total amount written off each year irrespective of the year to which it relates 164 168 148
171 170

Source : QRC4 returns
(a) The figures for 31 March & 1 April of the same year are not identical as the figures for 31 March are best estimates provided by local authorities in May/June following the year in question and the 1 April figures are provided 14 months afterwards.

Also, according to the audit commission's latest stats BHCC collection rate is above national median rate:

http://www.audit-com
mission.gov.uk/wp-co
ntent/uploads/2013/0
6/Council-tax-briefi
ng-final-version-18-
June.pdf
On these figures collection rate under Greens is comparable or an improvement on collection under Tory administration. If you speak to council tax staff they will tell you how much work has been done to try and improve collection. How have you translated % into actual £ lost? Here's some info on national picture: Table 7: Council tax arrears and write-offs : 2008-09 to 2012-13 £ million 2008-09 2009-10 20 10-11 2011-12 2012-1 3 Arrears for earlier years brought forward on 1 April (a) 2,026 2,157 2,244 2, 310 2,344 add Net adjustments made in year to arrears included in the Net Collectable Debit for earlier years -37 -32 -31 -9 -22 Arrears relating to earlier years before write-offs in current year 1,989 2,125 2,2 13 2,301 2,322 less Amount collected in year relating to arrears for earlier years 427 440 472 471 474 Amounts written-off in year relating to earlier years 154 155 140 164 162 equals Arrears in respect of earlier years as at 31 March 1,407 1,531 1, 601 1,666 1,685 Amounts not collected in current year 781 724 701 696 698 Amount written off in year relating to current year 9 13 7 7 7 Total arrears in respect of current year outstanding as at 31 March 772 711 694 68 9 691 Total Arrears outstanding as at 31 March (a) 2,179 2,242 2,29 5 2,355 2,376 Court and administration costs included Total Arrears above 159 163 195 19 9 209 Total amount written off each year irrespective of the year to which it relates 164 168 148 171 170 Source : QRC4 returns (a) The figures for 31 March & 1 April of the same year are not identical as the figures for 31 March are best estimates provided by local authorities in May/June following the year in question and the 1 April figures are provided 14 months afterwards. Also, according to the audit commission's latest stats BHCC collection rate is above national median rate: http://www.audit-com mission.gov.uk/wp-co ntent/uploads/2013/0 6/Council-tax-briefi ng-final-version-18- June.pdf Drew18
  • Score: -6

1:00pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Thay Qon U says...

Drew18 wrote:
On these figures collection rate under Greens is comparable or an improvement on collection under Tory administration. If you speak to council tax staff they will tell you how much work has been done to try and improve collection.

How have you translated % into actual £ lost?

Here's some info on national picture:

Table 7: Council tax arrears and write-offs : 2008-09 to 2012-13
£ million
2008-09 2009-10 20

10-11 2011-12 2012-1

3
Arrears for earlier years brought forward on 1 April (a)
2,026 2,157 2,244 2,

310 2,344
add
Net adjustments made in year to arrears included in the Net Collectable Debit for earlier years -37 -32 -31 -9

-22
Arrears relating to earlier years before write-offs in current year 1,989 2,125 2,2

13 2,301 2,322

less
Amount collected in year relating to arrears for earlier years
427 440 472 471 474


Amounts written-off in year relating to earlier years
154 155 140 164 162


equals
Arrears in respect of earlier years as at 31 March 1,407 1,531 1,

601 1,666 1,685

Amounts not collected in current year 781 724 701 696

698
Amount written off in year relating to current year 9 13 7 7 7
Total arrears in respect of current year outstanding as at 31 March 772 711 694 68

9 691

Total Arrears outstanding as at 31 March (a) 2,179 2,242 2,29

5 2,355 2,376

Court and administration costs included Total Arrears above 159 163 195 19

9 209

Total amount written off each year irrespective of the year to which it relates 164 168 148

171 170

Source : QRC4 returns
(a) The figures for 31 March & 1 April of the same year are not identical as the figures for 31 March are best estimates provided by local authorities in May/June following the year in question and the 1 April figures are provided 14 months afterwards.

Also, according to the audit commission's latest stats BHCC collection rate is above national median rate:

http://www.audit-com

mission.gov.uk/wp-co

ntent/uploads/2013/0

6/Council-tax-briefi

ng-final-version-18-

June.pdf
QRC4 data is soooo last year! It might have been the fashion in 2012-13,but is out of date I think TKMaxx have even stopped stocking it.

Us trendy Brightonians are more into this season's latest QRC3 returns for the period ending 31st December 2013.
[quote][p][bold]Drew18[/bold] wrote: On these figures collection rate under Greens is comparable or an improvement on collection under Tory administration. If you speak to council tax staff they will tell you how much work has been done to try and improve collection. How have you translated % into actual £ lost? Here's some info on national picture: Table 7: Council tax arrears and write-offs : 2008-09 to 2012-13 £ million 2008-09 2009-10 20 10-11 2011-12 2012-1 3 Arrears for earlier years brought forward on 1 April (a) 2,026 2,157 2,244 2, 310 2,344 add Net adjustments made in year to arrears included in the Net Collectable Debit for earlier years -37 -32 -31 -9 -22 Arrears relating to earlier years before write-offs in current year 1,989 2,125 2,2 13 2,301 2,322 less Amount collected in year relating to arrears for earlier years 427 440 472 471 474 Amounts written-off in year relating to earlier years 154 155 140 164 162 equals Arrears in respect of earlier years as at 31 March 1,407 1,531 1, 601 1,666 1,685 Amounts not collected in current year 781 724 701 696 698 Amount written off in year relating to current year 9 13 7 7 7 Total arrears in respect of current year outstanding as at 31 March 772 711 694 68 9 691 Total Arrears outstanding as at 31 March (a) 2,179 2,242 2,29 5 2,355 2,376 Court and administration costs included Total Arrears above 159 163 195 19 9 209 Total amount written off each year irrespective of the year to which it relates 164 168 148 171 170 Source : QRC4 returns (a) The figures for 31 March & 1 April of the same year are not identical as the figures for 31 March are best estimates provided by local authorities in May/June following the year in question and the 1 April figures are provided 14 months afterwards. Also, according to the audit commission's latest stats BHCC collection rate is above national median rate: http://www.audit-com mission.gov.uk/wp-co ntent/uploads/2013/0 6/Council-tax-briefi ng-final-version-18- June.pdf[/p][/quote]QRC4 data is soooo last year! It might have been the fashion in 2012-13,but is out of date I think TKMaxx have even stopped stocking it. Us trendy Brightonians are more into this season's latest QRC3 returns for the period ending 31st December 2013. Thay Qon U
  • Score: 0

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