9 November 2012

Town Hall Council Tax Dodgers

The normal sort of council tax dodger

Just when you think things in Barnet can't get any stranger, they do. For a public body Barnet Council have a strange attitude towards contributing their fair dues to society.
1782 - Rating Consultant

So Barnet Council, the local branch of government, is applying to reduce the burden of how much it has to pay to contribute to central government, and is paying a private company to achieve that aim.The agreed fee is £700 if no saving is made and up to £29,000 if loads of savings are made, the potential savings are mentioned in a table which is referred to in the DPR but is not there. 

How do DPR keep getting issued that are incorrect? At least 8 staff and/or Town Hall Tax Dodgers are noted in this report. Is it time you all started reading reports properly?

Here are the values for rating purposes:

NLBP Rateable Value

value £ per m² £
2 4,020 565,000 141
2 2,512 335,000 133
3 6,446 900,000 140
4 2,122 244,000 115
4 10,843 1,300,000 120

Mr Mustard isn't a rating valuation expert but does wonder why that particular building is being appealed as the rating per square metre is the lowest of blocks 2,3 & 4 so on a crude measure the scope for reduction seems to be limited.

Mr Mustard also notes that the report was contributed to by Jonathan "John" Arnold the "Interim Transition Manager". How many here today gone tomorrow carcass pickers with no great allegiance to Barnet are we expected to support? (This is not a dig at the latest arrival John Arnold in particular but at the whole pack of interim hyenas with which we are saddled).

Paragraph 3.2 implies that the council don't have expertise in this area of rating valuations. In fact the paragraph is a bit naughty in that it says they don't have a specialist consultant but then why would they have? This ignore the 6 principal valuers listed in the staff establishment at 31 March 12 and the Senior Valuer they report to and the Borough Valuer who is part of the new 49 strong One Barnet senior management team.

It also overlooks the fact that the report author, John Arnold worked for 10 years in the Valuation Office who are responsible for property values, where he wasn't the tea boy but a valuer. Do we really need this consultant?

Odd, the authority at paragraph 10.1 appears to be wider than at 3.4. Mr Mustard is watching to make sure that no more work is dished out other than this one appeal without proper process being followed.

Now let us look at the effect of this appeal.

Up to 2012/13 business rates are handed over in their entirety to central Government so if this appeal is successful that means local government (Barnet Council) will give less money to Central Government less up to £29,000 paid out to an Estates company. How does this help the country. It just means that the time will be taken up of local government staff, the Valuation Office, and the Treasury. Any marginal lowering that could be made of council tax will have to be balanced by an increase in some other tax such as income tax plus up to an extra £29,000.

From 2013/14 Barnet Council will keep the council tax that it collects. So by reducing the council tax that it pays on a council building it moves less money from the left pocket to the right one. Mr Mustard can't see where this saves money.

If Barnet Council vacate the building the owners, Comer, will get 3 months rate free period and then pay 50% of the normal rate. Comer will save money because of the council's actions and it is Barnet Council who will have paid the fee which enabled it to collect less business rate on building 4. Seems bonkers to Mr Mustard. Comer should be paying some or all of the fee?

If and when someone else signs a lease in the future then they, as occupier, will be liable for the full business rate. They will pay less to the council if the council funded appeal is successful. Assuming the building stands for another 100 years, not unusual for a building, the council will lose far more in the long run.

This seems so nuts, and such a public servant job creation strategy, that Mr Mustard thinks he has missed the point somewhere. Where is the hidden bonus? 

Do please tell Mr Mustard if you know.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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