Ealing fails to collect over £7 million in taxes

Council blame new systems and are aiming to be best in London

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Ealing Council has been ranked as one of the bottom ten Councils in the country in terms of uncollected Council Tax. They failed collect £7,077,000 in owed taxes during the financial year 2004/05. 

This amount, calculated by subtracting 'total receipts of council tax' from 'estimated net collectable debit' places Ealing amongst the top four of local authorities in London with huge amounts of taxes owed but not collected.

The analysis carried out by public services union GMB of figures published by the office of the Deputy Prime Minister shows that the 33 London councils were unable to collect a total of £151,211,000 in council tax in the financial year 2004/5.

The union claim that the annual hike in council tax bills could have been avoided if local authorities had not failed to collect the almost £600 million in unpaid bills across the country, a figure that represents around 3% of the £21 billion paid in council tax annually.

The Council claim that the introduction of new systems and a policy of writing off debts less quickly than other Councils has resulted in the high number.


351 Councils


33 London Councils

uncollected 2003/04
council taxes (£)
uncollected 2004/05
council taxes (£)
Hammersmith & Fulham

Source: Office of the Deputy Prime Minster

Justin Bowden, GMB Senior Organiser in Public Services said, “Nationally there is
£589,538,530 in uncollected Council Tax. If this money was collected by the councils it
could be used to improve services or hold down the level of the council tax. We are not prepared to see people cheating the system to the detriment of our members and the expense of the local taxpayer."

Since council tax was introduced in 1993, the average bill has risen by 121%.  The Local Government Association claims that householders will face a 7% rise in council tax bills in 2006, equating to anyone living in a band D home being asked for an extra £85 on this year's average bill of £1,214.

Ealing Council has responded by warning of a crackdown on council tax cheats and promising that next year's bills will not be affected by the arrears. They believe the new systems will ultimately help increase collection rates once teething troubles have been resolved.

Councillor Martin Beecroft, cabinet member for finance and performance, said: “We are reducing the amount of money we are owed all of the time and are once again set to achieve a collection rate well above the London average.”

Ealing Council introduced new computer systems this year for the administration of tax and benefits and as a result the year end collection rate of 93.8% was lower than normal.  If they were to achieve a 99% rate, the council would collect almost £3m a year. 

November 4, 2005