Council tax mistake isn’t an argument against privatisation
April 20, 2011 7 Comments
In the media today, a trade union leader makes the claim that Barnet’s recent council tax mistake is an argument against outsourcing the revenue and benefits service. This seems to me to be a curious position to take.
Last Friday, about 2,500 residents had their monthly council tax payments debited twice. I make no excuse for this, it is unacceptable. But this slip-up was caused by human error. A council officer made a mistake and whilst this is obviously regrettable it has nothing to do with outsourcing or privatisation. A private sector company is no more likely to suffer from human error than the council.
What is important is how quickly an organisation responds to mistakes. My colleague Councillor Daniel Thomas informs me that the council began the process of reimbursing residents within an hour of the error being made. When a private sector organisation runs council tax collection it is essential that their contract stipulates a similarly speedy response time.