Collection rate highest since council tax began

LOCAl councils in Wales have achieved the highest ever rate of council tax collection since the tax was introduced back in 1993.

Figures released for 2013-14 show local councils collected 97% of Wales’ total council tax bill, which equates to a £1,182 million income for local public services.

Councils also successfully increased the amount collected in terms of council tax bills outstanding from previous years.

Last month the Institute of Welsh Affairs published a paper on taxation that argued the case for local government to collect newly devolved taxes under the latest Silk Commission proposals. Year-on-year improvements in collection rates provide further evidence to support this argument.

Commenting on the figures, Councillor Aaron Shotton (Flintshire), WLGA Spokesperson for Finance and Resources said:

“Local councils have a duty to all taxpayers in their local area to ensure that those who should pay council tax do so, while also trying to balance this against the need to offer assistance to residents experiencing financial difficulties.

“Council tax remains the main source of locally raised income. The collection of such a high percentage of Wales’ council tax bill is an important achievement because the finances raised play a crucial role in helping councils to deliver front line public services. Over the next decade local government in Wales will face an unprecedented level of financial pressure. With central grants expected to reduce drastically in the future, how effectively local councils collect and utilise their council tax income will play a central role in the protection of the local public services that many of our communities have come to rely on.

“Local councils will continue to work with and offer assistance to their residents to help mitigate the worst effects of the current economic climate and welfare reforms. This is being done a through a number of measures including sharing the cost, with Welsh Government, of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.”

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