A COUNCILLOR has criticised the Government for issuing “misleading” information.
Figures released last week showed Kirklees cancelled far more council tax debt than any other West Yorkshire authority. In 2006-7 the council wrote off £2.75m of unpaid tax – the eighth-worst figure in England.
Kirklees Cabinet member Clr Andrew Palfreeman said the amount written off was much lower.
He said: “In 2006-7 we wrote off £345,407.07 – the second-lowest annual percentage since 1993-4.
“Provisional figures for 2007-8 predict that an even lower amount, £110,789, has been written off.
“Those figures clearly show that, since the Conservatives took control of the council in 2006, write-offs have been at the lowest level for 15 years.
“That contrasts with the six years of Lib Dem control, during which an average of £835,732 was written off each year.”
Clr Palfreeman criticised the way the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) drew up figures.
He said: “Perhaps we should be asking why the Government decided to issue these figures just three weeks before the local elections and why they are so misleading and inaccurate.
“Kirklees always strives to collect all the council tax due to it. Where necessary debts are carried forward to future years to ensure that they are eventually collected.
“However it is ironic that, whilst the DCLG is alleging we have written off much more than we have, the Government’s own auditor advised us not to carry as much outstanding tax as we were and requested us to write it off in our accounts.
“The Government figures are misleading in that they do not reflect councils on a like-for-like basis.
“They do not compare the amounts each Council have levied in a particular year, nor do they take into account historical debts which might have accrued over a number of years and which their own auditors have advised should be taken out of the accounts.”