There is an interesting letter in this week’s Mercury, it’s signed by a “Neil Watkins” who declares he just moved to this Borough.
A quick Google of the keywords Neil Watkins and Lewisham and Labour clarified further where he comes from. A rank and file Labour Member whose Facebook profile puts in the UK Parliament network. Possibly a young researcher.
Here’s what he writes:
I received a leaflet from the Lib Dems complaining about the level of council tax in Lewisham.
I’ve recently moved to the borough and I can tell you that the boroughs with the highest council tax in London, Richmond and Kingston, are Liberal Democrat-run.
Kingston’s Band D rate is 30 per cent higher than Lewisham’s, so I think a bit of perspective is required.
Everyone in the UK pays council tax, so it’s worth knowing where we stand.
We all know that what the Liberals say and what they do in power are two different things, but let’s hope we never have to find out in Lewisham.
Neil Watkins, Blackheath
Now, since Mr Watkins is so politically aware, he must also have spotted that the Libdem literature informs people that Lewisham has the highest Council Tax of all Inner London Boroughs.
And that is entirely true, as it is true that Mr Watkins craftily manages to avoid refuting this fact (and if you read carefully you’ll also realize that he says he just moved in the Borough but not necessarily from Kingston or Richmond).
It is also true that all Outer London Boroughs bar one charge more than all Inner London Boroughs, and this is due to the fact that they all receive much less Government Grants, also for the reason that they are wealthier, and since they must deliver the same services the difference can only be found through Council tax.
It’s a redistributive measure to make those that need more receive more and those that can afford more pay more, and in fact the two Boroughs that Mr Watkins chose to focus on are two very wealthy Boroughs indeed, that therefore receive a much lower government grant from central government to integrate the collected Council Tax.
For each resident the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames receives a yearly grant of £231, the London Borough of Richmond receives £150. The latter is in fact the London Borough that receives less grants than all other Outer London Boroughs.
The London Borough of Lewisham receives £715 for each of its resident!
In his letter Neil Watkins points specifically at Kingston’s Band D Council Tax and says it’s 30% higher than here. Let’s take a look at this specific.
First of all this is factually incorrect, to be precise it’s 24.7% (Lewisham is 1,351.92 and Kingston is 1,685.88), but mostly, since Lewisham Council receives for each resident a grant that is £484 higher than what Kingston receives then Kingston must have a higher Council Tax to deliver the services it must deliver.
If Lewisham had to add the same £484 to the tax it charges then Lewisham’s Band D would be £1835, 92 and that’s £150 above what Kingston charges.
Band D Council Tax for the London Borough of Richmond is £1,597.21 , and this despite the fact that it receives a paltry £150 of central grant per resident, that’s a staggering £565 less than Lewisham. If Lewisham would add that to what it charges then Band D here would be £1916.92.
In conclusion, after adjustment to consider the different Government Grant received by each Borough it emerges that the Labour run Lewisham charges a Band D Council Tax that’s 8.9% higher than Lib Dem run Kingston and 20% higher than Lib Dem run Richmond.
P.S.: to make this calculation I made here the assumption that each individual resident is also a Council Tax payer. This is not true because the Council tax is instead a tax on the property, and since each property is on average the residence of more than one person it means that Lewisham charges in real terms even more than that when compared to Richmond and Kingston.