Hounslow Council Owed Millions In Arrears

Council defends its record despite being ninth worst in UK

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Hounslow Council has defended its record on council tax collection, despite a report which shows it is the ninth worst council in the UK for arrears. The council is currently owed £35.5 million by residents who have not paid their council tax.

A report showed that local authorities across the country had total arrears of £ 2.3 billion dating back several years across 31 councils with Hounslow ninth in the top ten.

But in a statement today, the Council said last year it had collected over 97% of its council tax and had recovered £4.5 million arrears from previous years.

Liverpool had the highest amount of arrears with nearly £108 million outstanding, about £500 for every household in the city. Eight out of the ten councils with the worst record on collecting council tax are Labour-run.

Hounslow Council comes ninth on the list with £35.5 million in arrears, closely followed by Lewisham (£35.1 million), and Southwark (£35.7m).

Other offenders in the London area include Hackney (£38.5m), Lambeth (£48m), Croydon (£42m) and at the top of the table, Liverpool, Birmingham (£96m) and Manchester (£48.7m)

Local government minister Bob Neill unveiled the figures in a parliamentary answer to Labour MP Helen Jones.

Cllr Jagdish Sharma, leader of the London Borough of Hounslow, said:

 “Unlike some councils we do not write off historic debts, which can date back as far as 1993.

 “Last year we collected a record 97.4% of council tax, as well as £4.5 million of arrears from previous years.

  "We will continue to take action to recover the money we are owed, including data matching with other local authorities and private companies to trace those trying to evade payment.

 “We also use all legal means available to us, and earlier this year one offender was sent to prison for refusing to pay a debt dating back several years.

 “Of course, we know that some people have financial difficulties, and if they are unable to pay their council tax they should contact us as soon as possible to see what support we can offer.”

July 2, 2012