£15.1m in council tax and business rates debt written off

Money Cardiff council wrote off £1.2 million in council tax compared with £804,000 in Wrexham

Related Stories

Councils in Wales wrote-off £8.5m in business rates and £6.6m in council tax debt in the last financial year, BBC Wales has learned.

In all, councils wrote-off over 32,000 individual council tax debts and over 3,000 individual business rate debts.

The Welsh Local Government Association said the 22 Welsh councils had a good record, with a collection rate of 97%.

But the TaxPayers' Alliance said councils "cannot afford to leave so much cash uncollected".

The figures vary from Cardiff council writing off £3.3m between the two taxes to Pembrokeshire writing off around £139,000.

Swansea council said that the main reasons for write-offs were debtors being made bankrupt or having been liquidated, being unable to trace debtors, disputed liabilities and situations where it was not cost effective to pursue very low value debts.

The information was obtained in a Freedom of Information request by BBC Wales' Newyddion Ar-lein.

'More effective'

Councillor Aaron Shotton, Welsh Local Government Association spokesperson for finance and resources, said: "Every year councils in Wales collect nearly £2bn in council tax and business rates.

"Councils in Wales have a good record in respect of debt collection and recovery rates, with 'in-year' collection rate for both of these taxes averaging approximately 97% (and this figure has remained stable)."

Mr Shotton said that over time in excess of 98.5% of all debt was collected, and claimed that compared to taxes collected by central government, local government was "a lot more effective in doing its job".

He added: "Recent analysis by the Local Government Association in London shows that tax left uncollected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) amounts to around £40bn, costing the equivalent of £1,370 for every household in England and Wales.

"If HMRC was to increase its collection rates to be at least as effective as local government it would bring in an additional £20bn to the Exchequer".

'Tax gap'

An HMRC spokesperson responded: "The LGA have fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the tax gap which is not a measure of tax unpaid.

"In fact HMRC already collects 99% of all taxes and duties which are collectable from a very wide customer base of 60 million taxpayers, increasing our tax take by £1.4bn to £475.6bn in the last year alone. On average we collect £1.3bn a day for the UK."

A Cardiff council spokesperson said: "The figure of £1.2m written off for council tax and £2.1m for business rates in 2012/13 is less than 1.5% of the monies we billed for during that year.

"As the capital city of Wales we are collecting over 98.5% of the amount of council tax and business rates that are billed in the city.

"Before writing off a payment, many of these debts are subject to court proceedings for non payment and bailiffs are widely used to help collect the tax.

"Writing off a debt is always the last resort for the council when all avenues have been explored including using tracing agents and insolvency action."

Robert Oxley, campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Council chiefs should make it easier for those struggling by keeping taxes low and making it easier to pay while pursuing those who wilfully avoid settling their bill".

In the previous financial year, 2011-12, Welsh authorities failed to collect £15m in council tax and business rates..

Council tax and business rates debts written off by Welsh councils in 2012-13

Council Amount of council tax written off (£) Number of council tax accounts written off Amount of business rates written off (£) Number of business rates accounts written off

Source: Local authorities in Freedom of Information request

Swansea

303,000

764

670,000

131

Blaenau Gwent

396,343

1,621

12,411

15

Vale of Glamorgan

161,275

1,304

176,903

54

Cardiff

1.2m

3,470

2.1m

226

Carmarthenshire

414,110

1,319

404,363

180

Caerphilly

292,893

3,146

502,304

227

Newport

596,567

2,827

630,281

183

Neath Port Talbot

102,924

721

51,075

32

Ceredigion

94,396

1,172

100,736

65

Conwy

128,475

901

146,600

98

Denbigh

284,664

2,012

254,741

448

Flintshire

367,306

1,996

302,269

248

Gwynedd

272,000

529

405,000

273

Merthyr Tydfil

76,593

261

143,642

23

Monmouth

141,662

1,086

297,262

128

Pembrokeshire

43,436

282

95,951

26

Bridgend

226,971

1,048

657,191

239

Powys

157,225

1,554

157,731

73

Rhondda Cynon Taf

309,000

2,514

418,000

239

Torfaen

103,034

727

273,500

44

Wrexham

804,000

3,180

660,713

201

Anglesey

133,134

248

26,126

30

Total for Wales

6,609,008

32,682

8,486,799

3,183

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Wales stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SkatesCity-dweller's dream

    These motorised roller skates allow you to cruise to work - without breaking a sweat

Programmes

  • A digger operated via an Oculus Rift and a controllerClick Watch

    Why controlling a heavy digger with a virtual reality helmet might improve safety

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.