Council misses out on millions through unpaid tax bills
PUBLISHED: 08:19 13 August 2014 | UPDATED: 08:19 13 August 2014
ALMOST £3million in council tax went unpaid last year by ratepayers, losing the authority vital money as it battles against rising Government cuts.
The outstanding cash is such a large amount that it could have paid for 67 primary school teachers or about 50,000 potholes to be filled in, had taxpayers all paid the money owed to North Somerset Council.
Instead the local authority is forced to chase hundreds of people for not paying the tax they should have done - all while tightening its belt in the face of unprecedented cutbacks.
More than £9.5million in council tax has not been paid since 1995, with about 80 per cent of that owed to North Somerset Council.
While some of the historic debts will be wiped off, outstanding debts from the past year mean approximately £2.95million is still owed.
About £2.5million of that is due to North Somerset Council with the remainder going to parish or town councils, the fire service and the police.
The cost of losing out on council tax owed is a big one for the authority seeing as funding cuts require it to save £53million by 2018.
The money it lost out on last year would equal that of the salary of 119 full-time librarians. Instead North Somerset Council is reviewing its library provision as it looks to balance the books.
A council spokesman said: “We have a statutory duty to collect as much council tax as we can.
“We do offer help to those having difficulty paying but will take action against those who won’t pay.
“There is a process we follow giving people the opportunity to pay what they owe before taking court action. We also contact people at the earliest opportunity after a payment has been missed.”
North Somerset Council’s collection rate of 97.2 per cent is above the national average.