Graffiti on the London Road Estate

Why there is no money to tackle graffiti

by Jan Pahl

At the last meeting of the city council’s Canterbury Area Member Panel members agreed that the city is currently enduring a plague of graffiti.

At the same meeting they concluded that little could be done about it. This beautiful and historic city is being steadily despoiled.

Many individuals and groups have done great work in clearing graffiti and beautifying the places which were so unsightly.

But the job is too big for volunteers. We need the council to take responsibility, but it seems that there is no money to clean off the graffiti, to catch the offenders or to renovate walls and underpasses and cover them with anti-graffiti paint.

The same story is told in towns and cities across the country. Not only is there no money to deal with graffiti, but there is also no money for clearing litter properly, keeping parks and gardens in good order, maintaining libraries and museums, funding schools and protecting services of many different sorts.

Jan Pahl of the Canterbury Society

Britain is one of the richest countries in the world. So why is there no money to maintain the quality of life in the places where we live?

We are happy to pay to enhance our homes and private gardens: why do we seem so unwilling to pay to enhance our public spaces?

One reason is the neglect of council tax. This is levied on a sliding scale, divided into bands, which reflect the value of the house.

These bands have not been revised since 1991. The result is that someone living in house worth £350,000 pays the same as someone in a house worth £3 million or £30 million.

Research in 2018 by the Resolution Foundation and by the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that council tax is highly regressive.

Poor people, and younger people, pay a much higher proportion of their income in council tax than do richer people.

So in London the poorest pay over 10% of their income compared with 1.3% for the richest. Council tax is also regressive in terms of regions. Poorer parts of the country raise less in council tax than richer areas, despite their greater needs.

A second reason is neglect by central government. The National Audit Office has shown that since 2010 there has been a reduction in real terms of 49% in central government funding to local authorities.

Local authority finance has been a low priority for all the political parties. Many have been content to let the council take the blame for the run-down of local services. But the blame rests squarely with central government.

It is time to press urgently for the reform of local authority finances, so that the payment of council tax is shared more fairly and so that the money is there to provide the local services we all need, use and value.

Prof Jan Pahl is chairman of the Canterbury Society and a professor of social policy at the University of Kent

3 responses to “Why there is no money to tackle graffiti”

  1. The council could save money if usable items, including foid, electronics, clothing, cutlery, crockery .. even money!…etc etc weren’t being wasted into landfill and they (and our planet and life itself) weren’t having to pay for that wastefulness .

  2. Robert Sheridan says:

    Oh that’s just great! Not only do we have a City Council stuffed full of people who think the victims of criminal damage should clean up the mess, or face prosecution if they don’t but now a learned professor trotting out the line that rich people should be milked to pay for graffiti to be removed.

    Let’s get one thing straight. Hand-wringers, bleating hearts and oh so cool, right on snowflakes please take note. Barbarians who paint and scribble on walls are not social artists, they are criminals. Each graffito is prima facie evidence of their guilt in the offence of criminal damage.

    There is no earthly reason why local residents, rich or poor, should have to pay a penny to get graffiti removed, If the City Council wants to get tough and find a solution, let it be via the route of nailing the criminals. A fitting punishment would be a sufficiently large fine (enough to cover the costs of graffiti removal) and a couple of days Community Service cleaning up other scribble. Our courts already have the power to do this and the deterrent message will soon get across to those tempted to commit criminal damage.

    We nail, name and shame other offenders. Why not have these criminals joined by those who think they can get away with spraying paint on our walls?

Leave a Reply

Get news by email