Wolverhampton Council chief's pledge over unpaid council tax
No stone will be left unturned as millions of pounds in uncollected council tax is chased down, officials have vowed.
City of Wolverhampton Council said it will never write off a debt until all avenues have been exhausted – even if it takes years.
It comes as the authority revealed figures for uncollected council tax going back eight years, which show that it has already clawed back more than £20 million in unpaid tax.
At the end of 2009/10 it was owed £3.48 million. But that figure has now been whittled down to £324,000.
The 2010/11 figure of £3.9m has been cut to £403,000, the 2011/12 amount has been knocked down from £3.6m to £498,000 while the 2012/13 amount, that was at £3.4m, is now £614,000. Other figures show the 2013/14 amount has gone down from £4.6m to around £1m, while the 2014/15 figure stands at £1.7m from an original £5.6m.
In 2015/16 £6.9m was owed but that has been knocked down to £3m.
And at the end of 2016/2017 it was owed £7.57 million and that now stands at £4.9 million. It means the council is still owed around £12m in total.
Councillor Andrew Johnson, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “It can often take years to recover unpaid debt – but we don’t give up, we work tirelessly for as long as it takes within the parameters of the law to ensure people pay what they owe.
“Obviously the amount of money still owed to us dating back from 2009/2010 is much less than the money owed to us from 2016/2017.
“This simply reflects the success we have had in chasing up those debts over several years.”
Councillor Johnson said Central Government changes, including the removal of Council Tax Benefit, had meant low income households were now having to pay more council tax than before and this had led to a slight increase in non-payment of around three per cent. He added: “Changes in the law made by Central Government mean more low-income households must now pay council tax than in the past.
“Inevitably, this means that some people find it incredibly hard to pay and this has seen an increase in unpaid council tax.”
Councillor Johnson said that while the council was committed to recovering debt, it did so in a responsible way.
He said: “We were the first council in the country to sign up to the new Citizens Advice council tax protocol and have been praised by the Money Advice Trust for reducing the amount of court summons we issue.”