£19m in tax uncollected

Sheffield Council has joint 10th-worst collection rate for council tax outside London in 2012/13
Sheffield Council has joint 10th-worst collection rate for council tax outside London in 2012/13
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South Yorkshire councils are among the worst in the country for collecting council tax – missing out on nearly £19 million in a year.

Among all councils outside London, Doncaster had the fourth worst rate while Sheffield had the joint 10th worst.

Latest Government figures for 2012-13 showed Sheffield collected 95.3 per cent of council tax – thus missing out on £8.8million.

Doncaster missed out on £4.8m and had a collection rate of 94.9 per cent.

The worst-performing council outside of London was Salford, Greater Manchester, where 92.1 per cent of council tax was collected.

Barnsley’s figure was 96.3 per cent, leaving £3m uncollected, but was above the 96.2 per cent average rate for metropolitan boroughs.

Rotherham was the best-performing South Yorkshire council with 97.5 per cent, leaving £2.25m uncollected.

But rates fell compared with 2011/12 – by 1.1 per cent in Doncaster, 0.3 per cent in Sheffield and Barnsley, and 0.2 per cent in Rotherham.

Nationally, collection rates for metropolitan boroughs increased by 0.1 per cent on average.

Collection of business rates in 2012/13 was better in all four areas of South Yorkshire, at 98.1 per cent in Rotherham, 97.3 per cent in Barnsley, 97.1 per cent in Sheffield and 96.4 per cent in Doncaster, against a 96.7 per cent average for metropolitan boroughs.

Solihull was the best metropolitan authority for council tax collection in 2012/13, at 98.7 per cent, while Newcastle upon Tyne was the best for business rates, collecting 99.5 per cent.

Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, called on South Yorkshire councils to learn lessons from each other.

She said: “Local authorities should share practices. Deprivation is an issue in areas of Barnsley and Rotherham, too. It would make sense for Sheffield to examine why its collection rates are not as high as elsewhere.”

Coun Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council cabinet member for finance, said: “This is not £8.8 million lost. We are pursuing people in arrears.”

Council Tax factfile:

Could do better?

99.4% - Best collection rate in 2012/13 recorded in New Forest, Surrey Heath and Wokingham councils.

94.9% - Council tax collection rate in Doncaster for 2012/13 – fourth worst of any council outside London.

95.3% - Proportion of council tax recouped in Sheffield in 2012/13 – the joint 10th worst collection rate.

97.5% - Council tax collected in Rotherham in 2012/13.