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The Daily Mail reports that 650,000 householdres are dodging paying the Council Tax – equivalent to an £50 a year on everyone else's bill. Collection rates during the recession have fallen from 98.8% to 97.8%. London has the worst problem, with 4.3% not paying. But Yorkshire, the North West and North east are also doing badly with dcollection rates below 97%.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says:

"Every penny of council tax that isn’t collected means higher council tax for the law-abiding citizens who do pay up on time. Councils with an efficient collection service are able to set lower council tax bills for everyone or spend more money on frontline services such as bin collections.

The new Government will be making councils become more open and transparent about the money that is being thrown away from not collecting council tax. Once residents know how much cash is being lost due to poor administration, they will demand action from their councils to raise their game.

It is important that councils are sympathetic to the vulnerable and families who are struggling in the recession, and don’t overuse bailiffs. But a lot more could be done to improve the back office service, especially in inner-city areas which have the worst collection rates."

If you click on this link and then click on Table 5 you can see how the individual councils are doing. Among the inner London councils the average collection rate is 94.6%. Wandsworth achieved 97.1%, K&C it was 96.6%  - in Hammersmith and Fulham we got 95.6%. Labour-run Hackney only managed 92.8% while among outer London boroughs Newham got 92%.

Eleswhere Salford had a collection rate of 91.5% and "model" Labour-run Manchester 90.9%. Wokingham got 99.2%. Well done Wokingham! Also to Staffordshire Moorlands, West Oxfordshire and Broadland who each got the same figure. But they are beaten by South Cambridgeshire and North Kesteven who each managed 99.3%.

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