Argyll & Bute Council explains [?] the calculation of your council tax

Every household in Argyll & Bute  is to receive a booklet entitled Welcome to Your Council.

Following yesterday’s announcement by the SNP Scottish Government of substantial rises to be made to the council tax to be charged to householders whose properties are in Bands E. F, G and H, many readers are troubled and exercised by what this will mean for them.

Will Argyll & Bute Council be able to help them?

The inside back page of the leaflet in question does not offer much hope.

On that page is material headed: Calculation of council tax.

Some of the items listed there are – understandably – confusing rather than clarifying the matter, with readers particularly noting:

  • Cultural and Related Services
  • Non Distributed Costs
  • Corporate and Democratic Core
  • Valuation Joint Board
  • Capital Charges Adjustment

Any competent communication is expressed to be accessible to its audience.

This leaflet has a universal audience of residents in Argyll and Bute, the vast majoRity of whom have no reason whatsoever to be familiar with the inner operations of public sector administration and its specialist insider jargon.

Many people are now anxious about the impact of the  council tax band hikes to come on Band E, F, G and H – and anxious about additional increases of up to 3% in council tax itself. They are urgent to get some sort of angle on how these will affect the sustainability of their personal lives and their personal finances.

This leaflet should simply – and simply – have done what it promised: showed people how to check the way their council tax is calculated.

Any suggestions – serious or tongue-in-cheek – of meanings of the unhelpful phrases listed above will be welcome.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Cultural and Related
    Some of our staff have athletes foot

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

    Tom Hayward March 3, 2016 5:19 pm Reply
  • The leaflet which is produced every year is only fit for the recycling bin.
    Instead of wasting money on these booklet they should get the holes in what is left of the roads in Argyll & Bute filled.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

    Treble T March 3, 2016 9:46 pm Reply
  • There is an excellent website called fixmystreet.com which is ideal for reporting faults to your local council.
    I have already reported a pot hole and a damaged street light.
    I reported the faults to fixmystreet.com on 2nd and 3rd February 2016 respectively and fixmystreet.com forwarded my reported faults to Argyll & Bute Council who sent me an email confirming the work needing done.
    Unfortunately receiving a confirmation from Argyll & Bute Council does not guarantee that the repairs will be carried out promptly as last Friday (26th February) the street light had not been repaired and today (3rd March) the pot hole had still not been repaired.
    Fixmystreet.com contacted me this week to find out if the repairs had been completed as it was 4 weeks since I had reported them and I posted on their website that the work had still not been carried out.
    Fixmystreet.com will contact me every 4 weeks until the repairs are carried out by Argyll & Bute Council and it will be interesting to see how long it takes the council to carry out the repairs.
    It is time that the Argyll & Bute Councillors got off their backsides and listened to their constituents complaints rather than “living it up” at Kilmory at the council taxpayers expense.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

    Treble T March 3, 2016 10:00 pm Reply
    • Treble T,may I suggest you spray a big yellow circle around the offending pot hole and add your feelings in large letters alongside, it seemed to work for someone not long ago.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

      Richard March 3, 2016 11:16 pm Reply
      • LOL!
        Dick- Urban Commando!!!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

        Hugh Jazz March 4, 2016 7:47 am Reply
    • I saw recently a post on the web whereby after many attempts to get their local council (sorry cannot remember where) had failed to fill potholes in numerous roads and pathways under their jurisdiction – so to highlight that lack of activity by their council, locals started to fill the holes with earth and plant flowers and shrubs in them. Amazingly the local paper took photographs and in a short space of time many of the largest holes had been filled – maybe that could be used to good affect in Argyll

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

      mike March 4, 2016 1:44 pm Reply
  • Richard,
    Thank you for your suggestion.
    I intend to wait until it is filled and then write a letter to my local newspaper advising the readers how long it took for Argyll & Bute Council to repair this pot hole, if ever.
    It might even shame my local councillor into taking action.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

    Treble T March 4, 2016 12:20 am Reply
    • TTT. Living where you do, on Islay, you actually have three local councillors to shame: Robin Currie (resident on Islay, Anne Horn and John McAlpine, the latter two living no further away than Tarbert. I understand from friends on the island that Anne Horn is a regular visitor, John McAlpine perhaps less so. I hope you are in contact with all three about the offending pothole. By the way, is this the only pothole on Islay? Lucky island, if so!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      Alex McKay March 4, 2016 1:56 pm Reply
      • Alex.
        Robin Currie is hopeless as an Argyll & Bute councillor but amazingly he is re-elected at every council election because the Islay residents vote for him as he lives on Islay.
        John McAlpine never comes to Islay except when he is looking for votes in the period before the council elections.
        Ann Horn at least periodically comes to Islay and holds surgeries throughout the island which is something that neither Councillor Currie and Councillor McAlpine do.
        In my opinion there are far too many Argyll & Bute councillors and we could easily get rid of 50% of them if not more. One councillor per constituency would be sufficient and the money saved could be used to fill the pot holes in the roads throughout Argyll & Bute.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

        Treble T March 5, 2016 12:14 am Reply
      • Alex.
        Robin Currie is hopeless as an Argyll & Bute councillor but amazingly he is re-elected at every council election because the Islay residents vote for him as he lives on Islay.
        John McAlpine never comes to Islay except when he is looking for votes in the period before the council elections.
        Ann Horn at least periodically comes to Islay and holds surgeries throughout the island which is something that neither Councillor Currie and Councillor McAlpine do.
        In my opinion there are far too many Argyll & Bute councillors and we could easily get rid of 50% of them if not more. One councillor per constituency would be sufficient and the money saved could be used to fill the pot holes in the roads throughout Argyll & Bute.
        Finally in my opinion we should get rid of all the current councils and bring back Regional councils such as Strathclyde Regional Council but do not have District Councils which were previously introduced as a sop to the former town councils such as Campbeltown Town Council.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        Treble T March 5, 2016 12:21 am Reply
  • The Council Tax Notice accompanying the booklet has the ‘Crystal Mark’, which says, “Clarity approved by Plain English Campaign” !!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

    george March 4, 2016 8:40 am Reply
  • It certainly is ridiculous to use the sort of terminology which only ever appears in a council’s financial statements or possibly in internal budget reports. It isn’t only ABC that do it – it is commonplace in a lot of councils to simply use the terms they are required to use in their annual accounts.
    If anyone is interested in what the things newsroom has highlighted they are:

    • Cultural and Related Services – this will cover expenditure on things like libraries, museums, performance venues , public halls, community centres etc
    • Non Distributed Costs – these are mainly costs that the council has to bear for allowing people to retire early, the cost of any discretionary benefits awarded to employees or impairment losses chargeable on assets the council are holding to sell
    • Corporate and Democratic Core – these are the costs which are incurred through the very fact the council is a a multi-functional and democratic organisation. Some examples are councillors’ expenses and allowances; subscriptions to COSLA, the Chief Executive’s salary; maintaining statutory registers (except the electoral register); providing information required by members of the public in, costs of audit, public performance reports etc etc
    • Valuation Joint Board – the VJB is a separate public body that is partially funded by ABC – it is also funded by WDC and EDC. They are the people who value houses and commercial premises to work out what council tax band they are in or what their non-domestic rate charge should be
    • Capital Charges Adjustment – I haven’t seen the leaflet but I am guessing this is the amount spent to service debt (i.e. pay the interest in our language!) and also the depreciation charged to services to reflect the use of capital assets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Integrity? March 4, 2016 9:15 pm Reply
  • The pothole reference tells us all what’s wrong with local government. If we expect our councillors to spend their time micromanaging the officers to fill potholes or whatever then how can we expect councillors who will have the vision and time to develop policies which will transform our quality of life?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Graeme mccormick March 4, 2016 9:39 pm Reply
    • At long last we have a comment on this blog which explains,in plain English,why we fail at local government level.
      Question 1/ why are we paying good salaries to ” officers” that,quite obviously,are not up to the job?
      Question 2/ Why do we need so many,” unqualified” , councillors?
      From the little I have read,since coming to Argyll 2 years ago, there appears to be no coherent strategy to improve the dramatic depopulation and life skill opportunities for the young.
      Argyll and Bute at present,promotes a something for nothing culture,emanating from the worthies in Kilmory.
      Thank you Mr.McCormick for an honest appraisal of current circumstances .

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

      R.B Stoker March 4, 2016 10:00 pm Reply
  • Going off topic a bit here, but relates back to the comment on pot holes, and roads.
    Had a visit from a sales rep from the big smoke.
    When asked what way she was coming, and said via the rest, the reply was are you sure you will get there?
    So perhaps the fact the rest , is repeatedly mentioned as closed on the news , is giving the impression there’s only one route to the north part of Argyll?
    It may also explain how quiet this winter has been up here ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Tom Hayward March 4, 2016 10:48 pm Reply
  • It is a well known fact that local authorities have been hopelessly over staffed for years as every year their employees leave through natural wastage including early retirement yet the local authorities do not grind to a halt due to a lack of employees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    Treble T March 6, 2016 2:45 pm Reply

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