Council joins pilot scheme to help recover millions in unpaid council tax

Birmingham City Council is one of 29 local authorities chosen to pilot a scheme that will help councils recover unpaid council tax.

Last year (2018/19) Birmingham City Council issued around over 400,000 bills to resident households totalling more than £382m in council tax. The collection rate was 94.4 per cent, which meant more than £21m was unpaid, the national average collection rate is 97 per cent.

Birmingham City Council is now taking part in a trial working with HMRC to be among the first to use the debt information sharing powers introduced by the Digital Economy Act 2017.

During this trial, non-paying customers who are employed or have an income will be contacted to start paying their arrears, or they will face having their debt deducted directly from their earnings through their employer.

The Act allows councils to obtain employer and income information from HMRC for people who have not paid their council tax and have an order to pay by the local magistrates’ court.

Cllr Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The majority of Birmingham’s citizens pay their council tax, which helps us pay to for vital services and support some of the most vulnerable people in our city.

“We know households face financial struggles and we offer all the support we can, both directly and through the Citizens Advice Birmingham. But, there is a disappointing minority of people who have the means to pay council tax but don’t. It’s not an option, it’s a legal and civic obligation, and these are the people we will be holding to account through this initiative.”

People who face difficulty in paying their council tax can call Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 1113 (Option 1) between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays).

The pilot will last one year before being reviewed before a decision is made whether to roll the programme to all councils in England and Wales.

You can find more information about council tax, report a change of circumstances and apply for exemptions and discounts via the council’s website www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20005/council_tax