Worst council for collecting taxes

BOSTON Borough Council is lagging behind its neighbouring authorities in collecting council tax.

Latest figures have revealed that Boston is at the bottom of the league for gathering in all the money owed in council tax, with a collection rate of two-to-three per cent less than other councils in Lincolnshire.

It is also bottom the worst authority for collecting business rates.

The news comes just months after the council announced its decision to write off £140,000 of business rates and £62,388 in council tax debt.

At a meeting of the authority’s audit committee last Monday, head of revenues, benefits and customer service Cherilyn Black told councillors: “In a year we collect 96 per cent and in the long term we collect 99 per cent

“These are complex issues. When they are at the write off stage it means we have done everything within our power to retrieve the money. Write off is the very last resort.”

Other councils in the county collect about 98 per cent of their council tax in year, with some almost hitting 99 per cent.

The authority claims the problems may be caused by the borough’s transient population and an increase in the number of potential Homes of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), but said it was ‘impossible to quantify the exact effect this has had on the collection rate’.

It is estimated that about 1.5 per cent of the overall collection is lost because of this.

At the audit committee meeting, councillors heard possible remedies to improve collection performance, including altering legislation so that landlords of HMOs could be made liable for council tax unpaid by tenants and adopting new practices to make it easier for staff to deal with problems.

A report handed out at the meeting said: “Some improvements will not be possible without a change in the regulations at national level.”