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City council owed £100m in unpaid tax

Liverpool City Council is owed almost £100m in unpaid council tax, according to the latest government data.

The data comes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and shows that £10.8m of the total sum owed relates to the last financial year, 2017-18. The rest is debt, in the form of council tax arears, which has built up over the years and not been recovered.

However, a Liverpool council spokesperson said that, unlike most councils, it does not automatically write off council tax debts after certain amount of time. Instead, it continues to attempt to collect the owed cash.

A council spokesperson said: “We have a rigorous but fair approach to recovering unpaid council tax and will continue to pursue debt long after the year in which it arose, and last year collected almost £10m from previous years which we were able to spend on vital services. 

“Our collection rate is around 94% which is similar to other big cities and in cash terms we’re actually bringing in more council tax than ever before. Welfare reforms mean that poorer households who would not previously have paid council tax are now required to do so and we know that some are struggling. That is why we would always encourage council tax payers to contact us as soon as they identify any difficulties paying as this will help avoid enforcement action and help us to agree an affordable payment arrangement with them.”

The council added that it has agreed to write off £16.5m in debt which is more than 20 years old, plus a further £10m associated with non-viable accounts where they have concluded that there is no prospect of recovering the debt.

“A further review is underway to ensure that the outstanding figure is collectable arrears,” the spokesperson concluded.

The government data showed that Liverpool City Council was owed £99.9m of historic unpaid council tax as of the end of March.

Top image: Julius Kielaitis


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