Where does my council tax go?

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Where does my council tax go - a Freedom of Information request to South Somerset District Council (WhatDoTheyKnow)
I have recently recieved my council tax bill and would like to know excatly where my money goes. On the minimal breakdown that is stated on the letter, it states i pay three different council departments i also contribute towards adult social care, may i state i do not use this service and i have no one in social care so why should i pay it. I also have no full time police force, fire service or ambulance service why am i paying for these. I have not used these services therefore why am i not refunded for the services that i do not use. I want to know the excact breakdown of where the £936 pound i give to south somerset district council go. As i feel i am being ripped of and paying for services i do not use. Yours faithfully, james

The following Freedom of Information request was published on What Do They Know?, and it’s glorious:

Dear South Somerset District Council,

I have recently recieved my council tax bill and would like to know excatly where my money goes.

On the minimal breakdown that is stated on the letter, it states i pay three different council departments i also contribute towards adult social care, may i state i do not use this service and i have no one in social care so why should i pay it. I also have no full time police force, fire service or ambulance service why am i paying for these. I have not used these services therefore why am i not refunded for the services that i do not use.

I want to know the excact breakdown of where the £936 pound i give to south somerset district council go. As i feel i am being ripped of and paying for services i do not use.

Yours faithfully,

james


Dear James,

Your question is quite broad and more than a little mystifying. To the extent that it’s a Freedom of Information Request, I can tell you that a more thorough breakdown of South Somerset District Council’s (SSDC’s) finances for financial years 2012/13 – 2015/16 are available on this page of our website: https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/about-us/finance

I recommend looking at the Summary of Accounts documents—there is a helpful pie-chart in each. Our Statement and Summary of Accounts for the 2016/17 financial year will be published after the 27th of July.

Please note that SSDC collects Council Tax on behalf of other local authorities, including Somerset County Council and Avon and Somerset Police (these are, I think, the ‘departments’ to which you refer). These authorities will have published similar statements of accounts.

The rest of your questions touch on deeper issues about the philosophy of public service and the extent to which these services should be free at the point of use. The Freedom of Information Act is not the appropriate platform to debate these issues. But I offer the following parable:

In ancient Rome Marcus Crassus became very wealthy by creating the first fire brigade. But his brigade was not publicly funded, nor did they sell fire insurance. When the brigade arrived at a burning building, Crassus would negotiate with the owner a price he considered reasonable to put out the fire. His brigade would let the building burn until a price was agreed. If the owner failed to agree, they would let it burn to the ground.

Whilst you don’t need adult social care now, you may one day. And the people who DO need it now aren’t in a position to agree a reasonable price for it.

Perhaps if you are interested in researching public service, you could use a public library (which is free at the point of use).

Kind regards,
Zac

Legal Services
South Somerset District Council