Headlines: June 27th, 2003

A joint initiative between the Local Government Association and the government has helped English councils to collect an extra 40 million pounds in council taxes this year. The scheme was launched in 2001 to help poorly performing councils improve their collection rates.

The council taxes and non-domestic rates collection results for 2002-2003 show that authorities had collected just under 14.1 billion pounds in council taxes by the end of March this year. That figure represents more than 96 percent 14.62 billion pounds which are collectable. This is an increase of 0.3 per cent on top of the previous year’s similar increase.The councils showing the best improvements in performance included some which had previously had the lowest collection rates, such as Hackney, where the collection rate rose from 74 per cent in 2001-2002 to 79.5 per cent this year. Torridge improved its collection rate from 92.1 per cent to 97.1 per cent and Lambeth’s collection rate went from 86.5 to 90.1 per cent. Other improving councils included Newham, Leicester, Derby, Eastbourne, Haringey and Waltham Forest.

Collection rates for business rates show that 14.89 billion pounds had been collected by the end of March, which represents 98.2 per cent of the total collectable.

Total gross council tax arrears in England at the end of March are estimated to have been one and a half billion pounds.