Headlines: July 16th, 2001

Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for local government, is to demand an explanation from the local authorities that have failed to collect a total of five hundred million pounds in council tax.It comes after latest figures show English local authorities had collected 11.89 billion pounds in council taxes for 2000/2001 by the end of March. This represents 95.8% of the 12.41 billion pounds due, and is a slight improvement on performance in the year before.

But it still leaves five hundred million pounds not collected.

Mr Byers has says he believes councils could do better, and is to ask the worst performers for an explanation for their lack of performance.

On a more conciliatory note, he has also welcomed the initiative by the Local Government Association (LGA) to intervene to assist poor performing authorities.

The organisation, which is the national representational body for local councils, says it is prepared to encourage poor performers by sharing knowledge and best practice with them.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, Chairman of the LGA, said that some authorities were still recovering from the ‘disasterous’ effects of trying to collect the poll tax.

Link: www.dtlr.gov.uk