Wales’ £86M council tax black hole

New figures released by the Welsh Government reveal an £86m black hole of unpaid council tax.

Data shows that Merthyr Tydfil has the highest amount of outstanding council tax at £131 per chargeable household at £131, compared to Vale of Glamorgan, which has the lowest at £33 – this against a Wales average of £64.

In 2015-16, billing authorities collected 97.2% of council tax billed, which marks a year-on-year increase of 0.1% – the highest collection rate since the introduction of council tax, while £7m was written off as “bad debts”.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has labelled council tax as Wales’ biggest debt problem, with 6000 people now struggling to pay their council tax bills.

Following a freedom of information request submitted by the Welsh Conservatives to 22 local authorities, 20 councils responded to say that they had collectively issued 110,000 court summons and nearly 52,000 bailiff letters and visits were made – all in relation to unpaid council tax.

At 93.5%, Blaenau Gwent recorded the lowest council tax collection rate for 2015-16 – down on last year by 1.5% – whereas Flintshire and Pembrokeshire scored highest on this measure at 98%.

Responding to these figures, Welsh Conservative Shadow Spokesperson for Local Government, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, said:

“It is concerning to see that so many millions of pounds remain in unpaid council tax – but also unsurprising.

“Wales pays the highest proportion of council tax in mainland Britain, a cost which is particularly hard to meet for those living in some of Wales’ most deprived areas.

“Council tax in Wales has risen 178% since 1997 which is an astonishing increase.

“I am also concerned that many local authorities are becoming chronically under-resourced and are therefore unable to properly carry out their collections.

“The government must take measures to implement a council tax freeze, change the way in which local authorities are funded, and offer increased support to families blighted by debt.”

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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