Headlines: July 9th, 2012

Councils are identifying households and organisations that are avoiding paying council tax and business rates by matching payees with mapping data from Ordnance Survey. When there is no match it is a case of potential fraud.

As five years of council tax avoidance at a single band D property represents £8,500 of lost revenue for a council, it is imperative that council tax and business rate records are as accurate and current as possible.

Mapping data provided by Ordnance Survey under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement is being used in combination with Unique Property Reference Numbers from addressing products to provide councils with an accurate and up-to-date property database that includes non-addressable premises and properties under multiple occupations. Matching this data against council’s own council tax/business rates records provides a list of properties from which no tax is being received.

The mapping data is available through the Mapping Agreement and no additional data or software licenses are needed. In-house GIS teams can perform data matching process and there is no need to employ expensive external consultants.

The data matching has been used successfully by a number of councils. Huntingdonshire District Council, which serves a mainly rural area in the East of England with a population of over 160,000 has followed this approach to identify missing revenue and improve a range of services. The team discovered more than 750 council tax and 1,200 business rate ‘mismatches.

Leeds City Council recovered almost £100,000 of additional tax. The largest single assessment was for a missing office building, which now pays an annual figure of £11,076.