UK: Finding the poll tax defaulters.

UK: Finding the poll tax defaulters. - The pains of the community charge or poll tax - that ultimate in self-inflicted wounds - are likely to linger on for a long while in certain quarters. The essence of the tax - and what originally commended it to Mar

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The pains of the community charge or poll tax - that ultimate in self-inflicted wounds - are likely to linger on for a long while in certain quarters. The essence of the tax - and what originally commended it to Margaret Thatcher - was its extreme simplicity. To give it a radical overhaul now, or to replace it by some new property-based tax, can only be a move back in the direction of complexity. And that is bad news for the local authorities.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had already decided to integrate its various property databases - previously the jealously guarded possessions of its departments - before the advent of poll tax. Its impending introduction hastened the process, however. And at the same time the borough became the first local authority to adopt, certainly for poll tax purposes, what is probably the most advanced geodemographic systems package in Britain. Called PAC, for Pinpoint Address Code, this in effect superimposes the postcode on the latest information from Ordnance Survey. The result is a computerised map showing every household.

When council officials fed housing benefits and other files into the database they discovered that certain addresses had been omitted from the poll tax list altogether. A further financial benefit, however, was the system's ability to distinguish those who had paid the tax (like the Royal inhabitants of Kensington Palace) from those who had fallen into arrears. Where clusters of non-payers appeared on the map it was possible to plan the collector's route to best effect. Ones and twos were best contacted by post.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Mike Ashley: Does it matter if the public hates you right now?

The Sports Direct founder’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism, but in the...

4 films to keep you sane during the coronavirus lockdown

Cirrus CEO Simon Hayward shares some choices to put things in perspective.

Pandemic ends public love affair with Richard Branson et al

Opinion: The larger-than-life corporate mavericks who rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s suddenly...

The Squiggly Career: How to be a chief strengths spotter

When leading remotely, it's more important than ever to make sure your people spend their...

"Blind CVs don't improve your access to talent"

Opinion: If you want to hire socially mobile go-getters, you need to know the context...

The highs and lows of being a super-achiever

Pay it Forward podcast: techUK boss Jacqueline de Rojas and Google UK's marketing strategy and...