£16m council tax not collected

Unpaid council tax has left Kirklees Council short of more than £16m, new figures show.

Government data revealed Kirklees, which is having to make huge spending cuts, is owed £16,617,000.

And communities secretary Eric Pickles said councils needed to “get a grip” of tax evasion in order to protect services.

He said: “Councils across Yorkshire are losing £200m of taxpayers’ money through neglect. Getting a grip on such tax evasion would help pay off the Labour government’s deficit, protect frontline services and keep council tax down.”

Coun David Sheard, joint cabinet member for resources, expressed disappointment at level of unpaid tax, but said he recognised the financial pressure some people were under.

He said: “This is vitally important to us – every bit of it. And it’s getting even more important as more government grants are being withdrawn.

“We appreciate that some people may be in difficulty. As the benefits system changes there are a lot of people under pressure.”

Coun Sheard added that council tax is often left unpaid by people who had died, gone bankrupt or moved away from the area. He said the council always made efforts to trace people who had moved away to recover the cash.

“It’s important that people in difficulty contact the council straight away,” he added. “It will not go away.”