Thursday, April 5, 2012

HDC and statistics

One of the statistics banded about by HDC and the Conservatives is the fact that HDC is 21 places from the lowest on their Council Tax out of the 201 District Council in England. That is 180th from the highest. Whilst HDC and the Conservatives use this most flattering statistic there are other statistics. One is the average Council Tax including Parish Precepts. The reason for this other statistic is some District Council area don't contain Town and Parish Councils within their boundaries and are therefore unparished. These unparished Districts pay for the services the parish/town councils do in parished District Councils.

What is wrong with these statistics?

The "Average Council Tax excluding parish precepts"  includes Districts which have parish/town councils and therefore excludes these costs from calculations and District Councils which don't have Parish/Town Councils and therefore include these costs in their Council Tax.

The "Average Council Tax including parish precepts" statistic also has its problems. Whilst the unparished District Councils therefore have control over all of their budget in this statistic, the parished District Council doesn't have control over the parish and town council budgets within their boundary.

Which is therefore the best statistic to use about HDC? Obviously the Average Council Tax excluding Parish precepts is wrong. Comparing HDC which excludes parish precepts against a District Council which doesn't have parish councils and therefore has their costs included doesn't make a proper comparison.

Is using the "Average Council Tax including parish precepts" better? Not perfect by any means. For example HDC doesn't have the control over Parish/Town budgets. On the other hand HDC has blurred the differences between District Council rate and the Parish/Town Council rates by pushing services it used to fund down to the Parish/Town level. These services include Public Toilets, CCTV and the costs of the Town Centre Initiative.

When it comes to comparing like for like then "Average Council Tax including parish precepts" is not the perfect comparator but it is a better comparator than the one used by HDC. Using "including Parish Precepts" means HDC is 94th out of 201 in that table not 180th out of 201.

In an unparished District Council, the parish council services, that would be normally provided by a Parish/Town Council, are provided by the District Council. Hence there is a higher cost for an unparished District Council which is otherwise paid for by Parish or Town Councils in other Districts.

In the statistic including Parish precepts HDC moves from 21 from the bottom to 107 from the bottom. Or 94th place from highest to lowest out of 201 District Councils.

By taking the CT including pp rather than excluding pp HDC moves up from 4th place to 2nd place.
Liberal Democrat run Camridge CC moves from 2nd to 5th.

Of course HDC wants to use the statistic which shows it at it best. By using the excluding parish precepts HDC is towards the bottom of the table. If they used to including parish precepts it would use a better statistic but show HDC as an average District Council.

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