Wales

Wales' £86m council tax black hole revealed

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Wales had an £86m black hole of unpaid council tax at the end of the financial year, Welsh Government figures show.

Merthyr Tydfil had the highest amount of outstanding bills - an average £131 per chargeable household - while Vale of Glamorgan had the lowest at £33.

Janet Finch-Saunders AM, the Conservatives' local government spokeswoman, called for more support for families in debt.

The Welsh Government said the tax provided vital funding for services.

Around Wales, a total of of 97.2% of council tax was collected in 2015-16 - the highest collection rate since the introduction of council tax.

'Concerning but unsurprising'

But a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Welsh Conservatives revealed 20 of the 22 local authorities said they had collectively issued 110,000 court summons for unpaid council tax, while nearly 52,000 bailiff letters and visits were made.

Ms Finch-Saunders AM, said the debt was "concerning - but also unsurprising".

"The government must take measures to implement a council tax freeze, change the way in which local authorities are funded, and offer increased support to families blighted by debt," she added.

Every local authority area in Wales has seen a rise in taxes this financial year as councils try to balance their books in the wake of continuing budget cuts.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said council tax in Wales was on average £156 lower than in England.

"Our Council Tax Reduction Scheme also provides financial assistance to more than 300,000 households and of these almost 200,000 pay no council tax at all," she added.

"However we recognise circumstances continue to be challenging for households across Wales and encourage local authorities to deal sensitively with those experiencing hardship."

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