With Council Tax bills dropping through letterboxes this morning, some householders in some parts of the Borough of Eastleigh are wondering how the Borough Council’s claim to have “frozen” Council Tax translates into in increase in their bills.
Council Tax Bills being received in Hedge End today, showed a 1.9% increase in the Eastleigh Borough Council component of Council Tax, despite a headline on the front page of the accompanying pamphlet which announced Your Borough Council Tax – frozen again!
Inside the pamphlet, the Borough Council repeat their claim that “The Borough’s element of your Council Tax has been frozen for 2013-14″.
Clearly a misleading claim, in view of the 1.9% increase to be seen on this bill, Eastleigh News phoned the Council Tax Department to enquire. We were told that;
This was due to the special expenses being apportioned differently this year. Some parts of the Borough would pay more whilst others would pay less, but across the Borough as a whole the level of Council Tax was unchanged.
When challenged, the Council official conceded that;
“The pamphlet is somewhat misleading…”
Further investigation has shown that the story is indeed different in other parts of the Borough. Another Council Tax bill that we have seen shows that the Borough component of Council Tax has actually been reduced in the unparished part of Eastleigh Town Centre, by 2% this year.
In the recent by-election in Eastleigh, the Lib Dems claimed credit for holding down Council Tax, to help hard-pressed families, and said they were pleased to have done so again for the 2013-14 financial year. Similar claims are likely to be seen in the campaign material for the forthcoming County Council elections.
But these latest bills show that the picture is not the same across the whole Borough and that the claims that your Council Tax is frozen are completely misleading. Even if you are one of the lucky householders whose bill shows an actual decrease, it simply isn’t true for Council Officials or the Lib Dems to say that it is frozen…
Eastleigh News asked the Borough Council’s press office for an official statement on this problem. They replied;
“The average borough Council Tax for a band D property has not changed this year and has, in fact, has been frozen for the third year in succession.
However, the Council operates a system of ‘Special Expenses’ to ensure that residents in parished areas do not get charged by the borough council for those services that are already provided by their parish and town councils. For instance, some Parish Councils maintain their own parks and open spaces and others prefer to let the Borough Council provide this service. The level of ‘Special Expenses’ does vary up and down across the borough and contributes to the range of different levels of council tax depending on where you live in the borough.”
Cllr Keith House, Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council and Leader of the local Liberal Democrats also issued a brief comment to Eastleigh News saying;
We have rightly claimed that Eastleigh’s tax bills are actually lower in both real and cash terms. There is some variation from parish to parish. I can’t vouch for County-wide bodies!