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Council Tax arrears rise by 25% in five years (14 January 2014)

Date: 1/14/2014    |    

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Duncan Lewis, Housing Solicitors, Council Tax arrears rise by 25% in five years

Working families are being surcharged on Council Tax payments to make up the shortfall in revenue for those who do not pay.

Householders who pay their Council Tax are paying up to £528 per year to subsidise those who do not, with the average surcharge to cover non payers estimated at £102.

A total of £2.4 billion in Council Tax went unpaid last year, according to a report in the Mail online.

The council which had the largest Council Tax deficit as a result of non payers was Liverpool, with a £114 million hole in its Council Tax budget and an average surcharge of £528 on Council Tax bills to cover the shortfall as a result of non payers.

Amber Valley in Derbyshire was the most efficient at collecting Council Tax, with only £718,000 in unpaid and uncollected Council Tax, resulting in a surcharge of just £13 to cover non payers. The local council is a Conservative stronghold.

Out of the 10 worst performing councils for Council Tax collection, nine are Labour strongholds.

Apart from Liverpool, the remaining top 10 councils with the highest Council Tax deficits are all London Boroughs – including Hackney (£41.8m adding £403 to an average bill), Haringey (£32.6m adding £313 to an average bill), Hounslow (£29.7m adding £306 to an average bill), Lambeth (£38m adding £284 to an average bill), Islington (£28.1m adding £277 to an average bill), Croydon – (£40m adding £271 to an average bill), Lewisham (£31.8m adding £268 to an average bill), Newham (£27.8m adding £265 to an average bill) and Enfield (£32.1m adding £264 to an average bill).

Unpaid Council Tax can be collected via a summons and most councils advise that people having problems paying their Council Tax should make arrangements with their local council rather than default. The government recommends people in arrears with their Council Tax should agree payments they can afford and spread the cost.

Local councils can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a Liability Order if Council Tax remains unpaid – a Liability Order means the debtor will have to pay the full amount owed and any costs attached to the court hearing. Debtors have the right to attend a Magistrates’ Court and state why they think they should not pay.

Councils can also approach employers and ask that any Council Tax owed be deducted from the wages of someone in arrears with their Council Tax.

For those in receipt of benefits, Council Tax may also be deducted from any payments.

As a final resort, councils can also send bailiffs round to the homes of those who do not pay their Council Tax.

However, the sheer scale of non payment illustrates the difficulties councils face in collecting Council Tax – which goes to pay essential council services such as bin collection and care for elderly and vulnerable people.
In the last five years, however, arrears of Council Tax across the UK have risen by 25%.

Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors

Duncan Lewis is a leading firm of housing solicitors and can advise on issues like Local Authority housing, debt, mortgage repossession, housing possession, disrepair of rented property and Landlord & Tenant issues.

Duncan Lewis is also a leading Legal Aid firm.

For expert help with housing law, contact Duncan Lewis housing solicitors on 020 7923 4020.