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£1m tax shortfall

WELL over £1 million in council tax went uncollected in Solihull last year, it has been revealed.

WELL over £1 million in council tax went uncollected in Solihull last year, it has been revealed.

However, the borough council has insisted its collection system was performing "very well" and it was impossible to collect all the money that was due.

According to figures released by the GMB public services union, Solihull was unable to collect £1.3m in council tax in the financial year 2007/8. Birmingham topped the regional league for uncollected tax with a whopping £16.2m and Coventry came second with £5.1m.

Solihull was tenth in the league and the tax shortfall was the smallest in the seven West Midlands metropolitan districts.

GMB regional secretary Joe Morgan said while there had been some overall improvement, the amount of council tax uncollected by local authorities remained stubbornly high.

"This money is urgently needed by councils to provide necessary services, particularly to the elderly and vulnerable," he added.

Councillor Ken Hawkins, council cabinet member for resources, said Solihull had managed to collect 98 per cent of the council tax due, which gave it the best record among all the country's metropolitan authorities.

"We would obviously like to have collected 100 per cent, but this is simply not possible," he said. "It's not a case of people dodging payment, it's that some are so poor they simply cannot pay. A number are actually destitute.

"There's no point in taking nonpayers to court because we simply couldn't get the money from them, and it would incur extra costs for the council."

 

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