Redbridge Council failed to collect £3.8m in unpaid council tax last year

Cllr Kam Rai says the figures don't tell the whole story. Picture: Ken Mears

Cllr Kam Rai says the figures don't tell the whole story. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council is missing out on millions of pounds of income through uncollected council tax – money that could be spent on services.

Redbridge failed to collect £3,857,000 of owed funds in the financial year 2018-19.

That leaves it with a council tax collection rate of 97.26per cent.

According to the Daily Mail, councils across the UK collectively missed out on £892million of income in the 2018-19 financial year.

The worst performing council nationally was Blackpool, which failed to collect £8 in every £100 owed, a 92pc collection rate.

At the other end of the scale, Berkshire, Wokingham and Chiltern in Buckinghamshire all hit 99pc collection rates.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "Councils need to ensure that they're receiving as much of the tax they're owed as possible.

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"There will be times when it's uneconomical to pursue every penny, but they must exhaust every feasible avenue before writing off debt as it's not fair on ordinary, law-abiding taxpayers for others to get away without paying their share. Those not paying put taxes up for everybody else."

Cllr Kam Rai, deputy leader for Redbridge Council, said: "In this data, our collection rates are above the national average, compare well with other London boroughs and increased on the previous year.

"But these are in-year figures which rely on different reporting methods and don't tell the whole story.

"We would expect over time to collect 99pc as we pursue outstanding debt, which we manage through various methods including payment plans.

"Ten years of government cuts has seen our budget reduced by nearly 60pc and we will always work hard to collect from people who evade payment so that we can deliver the vital services our residents rely on.

"But we also appreciate the impact of austerity on local people who are struggling to get by and, despite the government no longer fully funding the council tax reduction scheme, we helped 15,000 low income families last year to pay their council tax.

"The council also operates a hardship fund for those vulnerable residents in need of financial support."