Protecting the public purse

Audit Commission prepares its Value for Money legacy

The Audit Commission has today issued a briefing on council tax collection using publicly available data drawn from its Value for Money (VFM) Profiles, showcasing their practical application and benefits.

The VFM Profiles are widely used, with 9,000 visitors in the last financial year. Now with improved accessibility, they bring together data about the cost, performance and activity of local councils and fire authorities. The Profiles show how organisations are spending resources, what services they perform and how these costs and performance levels compare between organisations, and over time. Auditors use them to draw their value for money conclusions in annual audits, but anyone can use them: from Councillors and local government employees to members of the public. The Value for Money Profiles are an online tool that can help the public look at their council and how it compares with others, at a time when the transparency of public services is increasingly important.

This briefing provides a national perspective on data for two specific indicators in relation to council tax. It presents information on how performance differs between organisations and the main factors affecting these differences for example.

Jeremy Newman, Chairman of the Audit Commission, says: ‘As we prepare for the controlled closedown of the Audit Commission by the end of March 2015, we hope the VFM Profiles will continue to be helpful to auditors and anyone with an interest in local government. We also hope that the Profiles will be part of our legacy, and of use for many years to come.’

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Notes to Editors

  1. You may now view the Audit Commission’s Council tax collection: Using data from the Value for Money Profiles (June 2013) briefing, which also links to the Value for Money Profiles.
  2. Some key facts:
    1. Council tax makes up more than £22 billion of English council’s income
    2. Councils spend £300 million (NET) collecting council tax
    3. £605 million, of 2011/12 council tax due, remained uncollected by March 2012
    4. The total council tax arrears at 31 March 2012 was £2.355 billion
      (Ref:Houses of Parliament Library, Deposited Papers, PQ 151859, http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2013-0696/151859_Bruce.xls)
  3. The Audit Commission’s role is to protect the public purse. We do this by appointing auditors to a range of local public bodies in England. We set the standards we expect auditors to meet and oversee their work. Our aim is to secure high-quality audits at the best price possible. We use information from auditors and published data to provide authoritative, evidence-based analysis. This helps local public services to learn from one another and manage the financial challenges they face. We also compare data across the public sector to identify where services could be open to abuse and help organisations fight fraud.

For further information please contact:

Nick Rigg, Communications manager
Direct line: 0303 444 8284
Mobile: 07970 906 112
Press office: 0303 444 8282
Email: n-rigg@audit-commission.gsi.gov.uk