Thursday, March 15, 2007

Council Tax

I've just had the council tax bill through the door along with the pretty leaflet that explains where the money goes. It's jam-packed with information, of the type normally handed out to the public; that is pre-processed. I can't blame them for publishing things that way, there's certainly a lot there, it would just be nice if I get drill-down a bit further.

A case in point, it gives me the amount of council tax for each of the bands A-H payable for each area then later gives me complete totals. Me being me I'd like to know how many houses fall into each band for each area. Likewise as an example it uses a Band D house to show how the tax is split. It produces a yearly total of £1,361.16. A figure that doesn't appear within the Band D group, nor as an average of those displayed, so where did it come from.

Later it shows the precept for each parish and again uses a Band D property. For Stourport £19.53 has been levied. Now is that a fixed amount regardless of band, is it a fixed percentage, or an arbitrary amount? It doesn't say.

Getting back to the houses we have a boon, the Valuation Office Agency (which I've always thought of as a redundant term, why not go the whole hog and call yourselves the Valuation Office Agency Executive?) have all the details available on their website. Just locate the authority(district) and voilĂ . Well almost; firstly you can't get details for the entire district, you have to enter a town; secondly some sets hold other sets. In other words pulling up all the details for Ribbesford gives you Ribbesford, but searching Bewdley gives you Bewdley and Ribbesford too. Not too much of a problem, just annoying. Also the VOA doesn't share the same geography as the district. "Churchill & Blakedown" are separated (a minor thing), but there's no such location as "Upper Arley" and you can't separate Kidderminster into "Kidderminster" and "Kidderminster Foreign" at least not without a hell of a lot of work.

Anyhoo I had a crack anyway.

BandKidderminsterBewdleyBroomeChaddersley CorbettCookley


(Update: after much fiddling these damn tables still don't display correctly. Oh they're fine in preview and compose, but as soon as you publish pfft!)

So for those with the band figures you should be able to work out how much each area brings in.

Plotting each band as a percentage of the area produces the following pretty graph

For those unfamiliar with this type of graph treat it as a contour map. Start on the left and walk along the line for the area you want.

So for Kidderminster we start on a hill (A) with a gentle stroll down to sea-level (H). For Broome we start at sea-level (A) walk along for a bit, start up a slope (D) then really have struggle as we clamber up a peak (G) before another mad scramble down the side (H).

Would be really fun to plot every A-H band per house on Google Earth, colour-code them and assign height values for them. A true hierarchy of the country, do you live in a valley or up on a hill?