An initiative by East Lindsey District Council to use a private firm to catch council tax dodgers on caravan sites has drawn criticism from a leading councillor.
Victoria Ayling, who is UKIP leader at ELDC and Lincolnshire county councillor for Spilsby Fen, said the council’s new scheme is important but there are better, more efficient and cheaper ways of doing it.
She argues the work should be done by existing officers or local people - not a private firm.
But the council says the company is paid a percentage of additional income generated.
Council chief executive Stuart Davy wrote to all councillors about the new project.
He wrote: “Subject to due diligence and procurement, we will be working with a company called Capacity Grid, starting later this month, to undertake a piece of work with caravan site owners and caravan owners to better understand who is using a caravan as their main home and as such should be contributing to council tax in support of local services.
“As well as helping us to ensure that everyone who should be paying council tax is paying council tax, it is hoped the exercise will also result in an increase in the council’s financial resources.
“We are being supported in this work by the Valuation Office.”
The council says it doesn’t know how much it will cost to employ Capacity Grid to undertake this work because it depends on how much the firm brings in following its intelligence work.
An ELDC spokesman said: “The company is paid a percentage of additional income generated. Until the work is completed we have no indication as to the number of people who should be paying council tax but aren’t or the number claiming council tax discounts they’re not entitled to receive.
“It is right and proper that everyone who lives in East Lindsey makes the correct contribution towards the public services provided by the county council, district council, town/parish councils and the police.”
Coun Ayling said the issue was important and it was right that the council went after council tax dodgers to relieve the burden on those who do pay but it was also a complex issue.
She said: “Why is the council hiring a private firm of consultants when we have highly paid officers with the expertise who should be doing this, or local people in need of work?
“Then there is the issue of whether a caravan dweller has a main bricks and mortar home elsewhere that they pay council tax for. People who live in caravans might also be council tax exempt due to being on benefits or a low income.”
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