Northumberland County Council reveals it is owed nearly £16 million in unpaid tax

Council tax arrears in Northumberland are on the rise, as households struggle to make ends meet.

By James Robinson
Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 2:59 pm

A report presented to Northumberland County Council’s Corporate Services and Economic Growth overview and scrutiny committee outlined the latest position of the council’s debt recovery service.

The report explained that arrears for March 2022 were at the highest level ever – although this was put down to Covid-19 and its impact on collection and enforcement the previous year.

The figure stood at £15.9 million, compared to £14.824 million in 2020-21.

The county council is owned nearly £16 million in unpaid council tax.

However, presenting the report, the council’s finance chief Jan Willis revealed that this year collection rates had been good – but arreas were now begining to “creep up” again.

She said: “We’re clearly continuing to see the impact of the Covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis on our debt recovery position. It’s a muddied picture.

“In terms of council tax collection, we are seeing arrears start to creep up – but the collection rate up to now has held up pretty well.”

Furthermore, the council sent out 32,028 “first or second reminders” for unpaid council tax in 2021-22, compared to 7,773 the previous year – although in 2019-20 this figure stood at 47,211.

Business rate arreas were also at their highest level ever in the last financial year, standing at £7,211,000 compared to £6,577,000 in 2020-21. This was again put down to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to rising energy bills, the government introduced a £150 council tax rebate earlier this year. Additionally, residents will see a £200 reduction in energy bills from this October.