ONE of these photographs shows one of the most affluent parts of England, while the other shows an area which was ranked among the most deprived suburbs of the UK.
But many of those living in Newton Farm, Hereford, pay more in council tax than those living in Westminster.
This comes despite the fact that the the average salary in Herefordshire, in 2013, was £21,580 while those living in the capital’s West End were on an average of £38,355.
And the Hereford Times can reveal that those living in band D properties in the city of Westminster – which incorporates the areas of Mayfair and Oxford Street – pay £676 a year in council tax.
In Herefordshire, though, the cost is slightly different in each parish and many band D households pay more than £1,500 a year.
Herefordshire Council says there are a number of reasons for this disparity.
“The main reason is the high population density in London, which generates more council tax receipts and incurs lower costs due to the central locality of service provision,” said Peter Robinson, chief financial officer at Herefordshire Council.
“Additionally, urban authorities receive a higher proportion of base central government funding – approximately £100 per head, which equates to an additional £23.4m in funding for Westminster –therefore they require a lower level of council tax to fund their spend requirements.”
He added that London authorities receive “far greater”
business rate income, due to higher levels of commerce than in Herefordshire.
“The council net benefit share of business rate income totals £328m in Westminster, compared to only £28.1m in Herefordshire.
“This funding can also subsidise the council tax setting level requirement.
“Another factor to consider would be transportation costs in London which are funded by Transport for London as opposed to non-London authorities which pick up the costs for road repairs, bridges and public transport costs through council tax.”
This substantial shortfall in funding has been challenged by both of the county’s MPs, who are calling for a better deal for rural Herefordshire.
Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, said: “There are various reasons for this, including the fact that Herefordshire Council is a relatively new local authority and does not have high levels of reserves built up over years,” he said.
“But the main reason is that as a county we have historically received relatively low levels of central government funding.
According to government figures, the average band D council tax set by local authorities in England for 2014/15 will be £1,468.
Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, said he has been campaigning for a better deal for sparsely populated areas – with some success.
“Herefordshire now has increased education funding, an extra £43 million from the Local Enterprise Partnership and more money for our hospital and our roads.