Pilot scheme to recover unpaid council tax begins

Unpaid council tax is set to be recovered in a new scheme being trialled in Brighton & Hove. 

The council is one of 29 local authorities chosen to pilot a scheme working with HM Revenue & Customs to use debt information sharing powers to tackle non-payers of council tax. 

This joint working pilot enables us to identify and focus on the highest earners in the city who are avoiding paying tax.  

Rising costs

Using the new information available, we’ll be starting to send letters out this week to those we know are high earners but not paying their council tax. 

If people don’t start paying their arrears, they face having their debt deducted directly from their earnings through their employer.

Councillor Dan Yates, lead member for finance, said: “We can’t let those who can afford to pay, not pay. As a council, we’re experiencing the ongoing impact of austerity measures. 

“The annual rise in council tax doesn’t cover the rising costs of services or match the demand. We’ll be looking closely at how this scheme works and the potential benefits for all residents.” 

Millions unpaid

Last April, council tax bills for the year 2018/2019 were sent to 130,000 bills resident households, totalling more than £162m in council tax. 

The collection rate in the city was 96.47% per cent, which sounds high but actually means more than £5.7m was unpaid. Locally, we’re just below the national average collection rate of 97%.

We’ll continue a fair approach to recovering unpaid taxes, as set in our new corporate debt policy, approved at the Policy, Resources & Growth Committee in January.

We also offer support and guidance to residents who need help and signpost any vulnerable residents to the support organisations who can help them manage their money.

More information about council tax