Council tax bill is misleading

Bexhill Observer letters
Bexhill Observer letters

From: Dr Barry Snape, Mayo Lane, Bexhill

The season of our council tax bills is upon us again, and a cursory side-by-side comparison of my Band D bills for this year and last year has proven most revealing.

My contribution to East Sussex County Council’s Adult Social Care precept has increased from £24.02 to £61.55 (an increase of 156 per cent and not the increase of three per cent stated in this year’s bill). Similarly, my contribution to Rother District Council’s ‘Bexhill Charter Trustees’ has increased from £0.66 to £0.79 (an increase of 20 per cent, and not the decrease of one per cent stated in this year’s bill).

When I expressed concerns about this to RDC (the billing and collecting authority responsible), an RDC spokesperson advised me that the percentage increment shown for the Adult Social Care precept was calculated against the total ESCC budget for last year, while the percentage increment shown for the Bexhill Charter Trustees was calculated against the total RDC budget for last year.

As anyone with the most basic numeracy skills will observer, this stratagem has the effect of understating the real term percentage increments for these individual contributions by some 52-fold and 21-fold respectively.

The arcane manner in which the misleading figure presented were calculated is not qualified in this year’s bill, or in any of the associated documents on the RDC website.

Am I alone in feeling hoodwinked here, and in wondering whether I am legally entitled to withhold 
my council tax payments until I have received an accurate and unambiguous replacement bill?

I have asked RDC’s executive director of resources to make a public statement about this but have received no response from him a full week after my email.

I am therefore inviting our MP, Mr Merriman, to raise this matter with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and also on the floor of the House of Commons, to determine whether this is merely a local embarrassment or whether it represents a more widespread, national scandal.

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