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Agenda item

Council Tax Collection Rates

Decision:

(a)       That the Committee notes, with satisfaction, the latest Council Tax collection levels and the supporting information;

 

(b)       That the staff involved be congratulated for their performance;

 

(c)       That given the loss of the committal system, consideration of how this performance can be maintained be included within the MTFS; and

 

(d)       That the Committee’s appreciation of the people of Flintshire for their forbearance with Council Tax increases be recorded.

Minutes:

The Revenues Manager presented an update on the latest year-end Council Tax collection rates, arrear levels and comparison with other Welsh councils.  The report demonstrated the year on year improving position in Council Tax collection rates in Flintshire which compared favourably to average collection rates across Wales, England and Scotland.

 

The latest Welsh Government (WG) statistical release on collection rates across Wales for 2018/19 showed that Flintshire had recorded the highest in-year collection rate of 98.2%; this was above the Welsh average of 97.3% (an additional £700K in cashflow terms).  Despite the 6.71% increase in Council Tax for 2018/19, Flintshire had maintained strong collection levels through its approach to engage with residents, signposting to discounts and targeting support to those experiencing payment difficulties.  Since publishing the report, Council Tax arrears balances for 2018/19 had reduced further to £1.2m.  A statistical note on ‘All Wales Performance’ showed comparison of collection rates on Council Tax and Business Rates.

 

In commending Flintshire’s performance, Councillor Roberts paid tribute to the Revenues Manager and his team, and also to the residents of Flintshire for working with the Council to pay their Council Tax and contribute to local services.  He also took the opportunity to thank all employees who were on duty during the recent period of bad weather.

 

During the item, Councillors Mullin and Banks expressed their gratitude to the Manager and his team for achieving the outcomes, as did a number of Members.

 

The Chairman referred to the WG decision to remove the use of ‘committal’ as a recovery tool for those unwilling to pay Council Tax.  The Chief Executive said that the Council had made representations against this decision on the basis that it was an appropriate route to recover payment from a minority of people who purposely evaded payment of Council Tax and refused to co-operate.  The impact of the WG decision on future collection rates was highlighted as a risk.  The Revenues Manager explained that the committal hearing process provided for a fair hearing to consider a person’s ability and affordability to pay.

 

Councillor Jones spoke about the positive impact on cashflow in achieving collection rates in-year and the need to make written representations to re-introduce the committal process.  The Chief Executive suggested that this form part of wider discussion on Council Tax as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, taking into account the fairness and sustainability of Council Tax, the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and impact on cashflow if collection rates fell.  Analysis of written-off arrears across Wales was shown in the WG statistical release.

 

Councillor Brown asked about extending payment agreements for those experiencing difficulties.  The Revenues Manager said that residents were encouraged to pay in-year and that recovery methods were adapted for those unable to do so.

 

In response to comments from Councillor Johnson, the Revenues Manager spoke about the sharing of good practice across Wales.

 

Councillor Shotton said that the Council’s concerns about the removal of the committal process had been raised through the Welsh Local Government Association.

 

The recommendations, which were changed to reflect the debate, were moved by Councillor Heesom and seconded by Councillor Johnson.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)       That the Committee notes, with satisfaction, the latest Council Tax collection levels and the supporting information;

 

(b)       That the staff involved be congratulated for their performance;

 

(c)       That given the loss of the committal system, consideration of how this performance can be maintained be included within the MTFS; and

 

(d)       That the Committee’s appreciation of the people of Flintshire for their forbearance with Council Tax increases be recorded.

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