Harrogate Borough Council – Council Tax Fraud

I started my investigation into the charging of council tax for static caravans on Holiday Home caravan sites by Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) in October 2014. By late November my investigation was complete. This is the report and conclusions of the investigation.

Pinemoor Caravan Park, Harrogate

Pinemoor Caravan Park

On Pinemoor Caravan Park my investigation revealed HBC have charged council tax on 44 static caravans for an average of 4 years which is a HBC council tax fraud of over £176,000.

  • Lido Caravan Park, Knaresborough

Lido Leisure Park

On Lido Caravan Park my investigation revealed HBC have charged council tax on 43 static caravans for an average of 4 years which is a HBC council tax fraud of over £172,000.

Residential or Holiday Site?

HBC have issued 26 Residential Caravan Site licences and 58 Holiday Home Licences. On a Residential site residents may live permanently and may be charged council tax. While on a Holiday Home site residents may not live permanently, must fully vacate the site for part of the year and cannot be charged council tax.

Why is no Council Tax Payable on a Static Caravan Holiday Home?

Council tax must not be charged on a static caravan that is on a Holiday Home site as council tax is payable only on a sole or main dwelling. As planning permission for a Holiday Home caravan site does not permit residency it cannot be a sole or main residence as this would breach the planning permission for the site.

Why is this Fraud?

The Serious Fraud Office state fraud “is an act of deception intended for personal gain or to cause a loss to another party”. I believe that fraud has been committed by HBC as the objective was clearly to deceive static caravan owners into paying council tax. But to do so condoned the breach of planning legislation and this has caused a considerable loss to those paying the council tax.

How Big Is the Fraud?

My investigation only looked at 2 Holiday Home sites licensed by HBC out of the 58 they have licensed. At an average of£174,000, if the situation is the same for every HBC Holiday Home site, this is a £9,744,000 fraud.

As there are 433 principal authorities in the UK this could be a £4,219,152,000 which is a £4.2 Billion national scandal.

Conclusion

Under the Local Government Finance Act 1992, Council Tax is payable on each dwelling included in the Valuation List. This list is maintained by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), who are responsible for determining each property that should be included.

The following action must now take place:

  • Everyone charged council tax for a static caravan on a HBC Holiday Home site must be refunded all monies.
  • HBC must carry out an investigation into the other 56 Holiday Home sites.
  • HBC must not issue council tax bills in March to owners of a static caravan on a HBC Holiday Home site as to do so would be fraud.
  • The DCLG must undertake a National Investigation.
  • All Principle Authorities and the Valuation Office Agency must put in a “safety valve” to prevent any static caravan on a Holiday Home site ever being charged council tax.

Further Information

Please read Harrogate Borough Council and the £4 Billion nationwide Council Tax Scandal

Complaint To Harrogate Borough Council

—– Original Message —–

From: Andy Strangeway

To: richard.cooper@harrogate.gov.uk ; Wallace.Sampson@harrogate.gov.uk

Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 6:25 PM

Subject: Harrogate Borough Council – Council Tax Fraud

Dear Sirs,

Could I please refer you to xxx and the attached?

As per the post:

  • Everyone charged council tax for a static caravan on a HBC Holiday Home site must be refunded all monies.
  • HBC must carry out an investigation into the other 56 Holiday Home sites.
  • HBC must not issue council tax bills in March to owners of a static caravan on a HBC Holiday Home site as to do so would be fraud.

Could you please confirm that Harrogate Borough Council agree to the above?

I would like to register a complaint against Harrogate Borough Council for charging the Council Tax.

Kindest Regards,

Andy Strangeway

https://andystrangeway.wordpress.com/

“(Yorkshiremen are) richly endowed with that gritty determination, that wilful refusal to give up and that sheer bloody-mindedness that eventually prevails.” Sir Bernard Ingham

Email To DCLG

—– Original Message —–

From: Andy Strangeway

To: eleanor.smyllie@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 6:31 PM

Subject: Harrogate Borough Council – Council Tax Fraud

Dear Eleanor,

Could I please refer you to the forwarded email and the attached?

As per the post I believe the DCLG must undertake a National Investigation.

Could you please confirm that the DCLG are in agreement?

Kindest Regards,

Andy Strangeway

https://andystrangeway.wordpress.com/

“(Yorkshiremen are) richly endowed with that gritty determination, that wilful refusal to give up and that sheer bloody-mindedness that eventually prevails.” Sir Bernard Ingham

Email To North Yorkshire Police

—– Original Message —–

From: Andy Strangeway

To: Ian.Wills@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk

Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 6:34 PM

Subject: Harrogate Borough Council – Council Tax Fraud

Dear Mr Wills,

Could I please refer you to the forwarded email and the attached?

Could I please refer this to you for your consideration?

Kindest Regards,

Andy Strangeway

https://andystrangeway.wordpress.com/

“(Yorkshiremen are) richly endowed with that gritty determination, that wilful refusal to give up and that sheer bloody-mindedness that eventually prevails.” Sir Bernard Ingham

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