Revealed: 17 North Somerset councillors sent reminders for unpaid council tax bills
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 January 2017
2010 Getty Images
The number of North Somerset councillors who were sent reminders for unpaid council tax bills last year has risen, despite the overall amount of council tax owed to the authority falling.
Seventeen councillors were sent first reminders for not paying their council tax during the 2015-16 financial year, which is one councillor more than in the previous year.
However, the amount of owed council tax was slashed by more than £80,000, although more than £2.5million is still owed to the authority overall.
A council spokesman said the authority’s collection rates were constantly improving and they stressed even councillors would still be subjected to debt collection methods if they do not pay their bill.
The spokesman said: “Collection rates for council tax are improving year-on-year and now North Somerset is among the best in the country.
“Council tax and business rate collection is vital to funding public services so a variety of methods are used to chase outstanding payments.
“This includes traditional enforcement agencies or local financial investigators, as well as text alerts to remind people to make payments.”
The figures were obtained from the council via a Freedom of Information request, which also revealed the councillors who had been sent reminders had since settled their accounts in full.
The authority also revealed its collection target for council tax in 2015-16 was 97.3 per cent – amounting to a figure of more than £107million – but its actual collection rate was 97.7 per cent. For business rates, its target was 98.2 per cent – almost £60million – and the actual amount collected was 98.5 per cent.
The council’s spokesman said a pilot scheme it ran in Weston last year had been extremely successful in helping families manage their money more effectively, and added: “People who had seriously fallen into debt were offered help and advice by specially-trained officers. The results were way beyond expectations but, most importantly, those who took part have been given the chance to get their lives in order.
“The council has recovered a further £890,000 during the past two years and prevented potential costs and fees of more than £300,000 being added to customers’ debt levels.”