The towns that don't pay their council tax

The bill for unpaid council tax has hit more than two billion pounds, but changes to the system mean it's now harder to collect.

The bill for council tax arrears in England has soared to just under £2.4 billion, or £104 per household, new government figures show.

This number include debts which have been allowed to build up over the past 20 years since council tax was introduced.

Eric Pickles, Local Government Secretary, has used the data to attack Labour for not dealing with tax evasion properly.

He said the arrears bill proves that if collection rates improved local councils could use this money to put towards improving local services.

[Related link: Where council tax is rising and falling the most]

The famous Liver buildings on the waterfront in Liverpoool (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Council tax arrears by authority

Liverpool residents owe the highest amount of council tax with a total unpaid bill of £113 million, which works out at around £528 per household on average.

It's followed by other Northern cities such as Manchester, owing £52 million, Durham at £41 million and Sheffield with a slightly smaller bill of £33 million.

Five of the top ten locations were also found in London. These include Hackney with a debt of £39 million, or £385 per person, and Lambeth which owes £41 million or £307 per household.

These figures were released to Parliament by Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis and they relate to outstanding council tax payments from March 2012.


Local authorities which owe the most

Rank

Local authority

Amount outstanding

1

Liverpool

£113 million

2

Birmingham

£98 million

3

Manchester

£52 million

4

Croydon

£43 million

5

Durham

£41.5 million

6

Lambeth

£41.1 million

7

Hackney

£39 million

8

Sheffield

£33.48 million

9

Enfield

£33.44 million

10

Lewisham

£33 million


Old St Mary the Virgin Church on the Isles of Scilly (Tim Okenden/PA Archive)

Local authorities which owe the least

Rank

Local authority

Amount outstanding

1

Isles of Scilly

£117,000

2

City of London

£137,000

3

Rutland

£517,000

4

Ribble Valley

£644,000

5

South Cambridgeshire

£664,000

6

Oadby & Wigston

£677,000

7

Amber Valley

£695,000

8

Malvern Hills

£696,000

9

Wychavon

£725,000

10

Eden

£777,000

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Collection problems

Nine out of ten authorities in the top list are under Labour control and therefore Pickles has used the data as an excuse to criticise the way in which these councils collect council tax.

But these Labour-led towns are all in areas of the country where people statistically have less money. So Labour has said it's not a case of people not wanting to pay tax, it's a case of them not being able to afford to. 

This situation is about to get worse too...


Council tax changes

The council tax system has had a major overhaul and local councils are now in control of collecting council tax.

Council Tax Reduction has also been introduced, which is basically a replacement for Council Tax Benefit. It’s there to help people who can’t afford to pay their council tax but it doesn’t offer the same benefits as the previous scheme. This means many people are now having to pay this tax, which is on average £247 a year, for the first time.

In an economy where incomes are squeezed and cuts are taking place across the board, it’s unlikely this change will do little to help the problem of council tax arrears.

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