Labour-run Luton Borough Council is set to declare the worst Council Tax collection this century, with around a twelfth of Council Tax not being collected by the Council.
The in-year performance in the stricken Council department dealing with Council Tax collection and Benefits has dropped to the lowest anyone can ever remember.
Officials have confirmed that they will admit to the Government that last year, Luton collected only 91.7 per cent of the Council Tax due from residents for the year.
The figure means that residents got away with not paying around £4.8 million in Council Tax that was due last year. This equates to a month’s worth of Council services.
However, the figure comprises more than 8.3 per cent of people not paying. If the average Council Tax arrears for each resident not paying in full was between 3 and 4 months, it suggests that between a quarter and a third of residents may not have paid in full.
The embarrassingly low performance, which looks set to put Luton at the bottom of the pile, comes at a time most Councils have been praised by Ministers for collecting more. The national average collected last year by Councils was 97.1% – with under 3 per cent not being collected as opposed to the 8.3 percent that Luton Labour failed to pick up.
Liberal Democrat Opposition Finance spokesman Martin Pantling says; “If between a quarter and a third of people have not fully paid their Council Tax, this can only be seen as a crisis. Not only will they find it hard to catch up, it’s totally unfair on those who are reluctantly paying Labour’s above-average tax hike this year.”
“With the worst collection performance this century and probably one of the worst in the country, Labour have run the Council into the ground in just one year.”
“Instead of employing staff consultants to advise on Excellence and creating new £100,000 a year posts to look at Performance, maybe they should concentrate on basic things like bothering to collect the Council Tax when it’s due.”
Liberal Democrats revealed earlier this year that the team dealing with Council Tax and Benefits were only answering 3 out of 10 calls from residents, a fact the Council now admits.