Arrears figures misleading’

MORE than £1million of Council Tax remains uncollected in Huntingdonshire – but the figures can be misleading, the district council said this week. HDC collected 98.5 per cent of the £71million due in 2006/07 in the year in which it was due, said the coun

MORE than £1million of Council Tax remains uncollected in Huntingdonshire - but the figures can be misleading, the district council said this week.

HDC collected 98.5 per cent of the £71million due in 2006/07 in the year in which it was due, said the council's director of commerce and technology, Terry Parker.

The GMB trade union had claimed HDC was almost at the bottom of an East of England league table of the amount by which arrears had increased since the previous year.

In Huntingdonshire's case, the outstanding sums were £865,000 in 2005/06 and £1,010,000 at the end of March this year. South Cambridgeshire, which includes Papworth and Cambourne, was ranked third in the table, having improved from £1,113,000 to £801,000.

But Mr Parker said the way the figures were presented was meaningless without knowing what each authority's tax base was - the total it should be collecting in Council Tax, for itself, the county and parish council and police and fire authorities.

Justin Bowden, GMB senior organiser, said: "With more than £760million uncollected Council Tax nationally in the last year alone, and more than half of councils getting worse at it, this is a serious issue."

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Mr Parker said: "Huntingdonshire is one of the bigger councils and is collecting a lot more money than many. In any case, this is just one date and there can be a number of reasons for payments slipping into the following year. Last year, we collected £584,000 owing from previous years on top of the 98.5 per cent collected in the year.

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