Breckland Council failed to collect nearly �1m in council tax for 2011-12

Breckland Council has said its council tax collection rate is back on track after government figures revealed it failed to collect �974,000 in 2011-12.

The council narrowly missed its target of collecting 98.4pc of council tax owed to it in the last financial year, achieving an actual collection rate of 98.2pc, itself a 0.1pc improvement on 2010-11.

Three Norfolk councils did better, with neighbouring Broadland collecting 99pc of the money owed to it in council tax, while three performed worse, with Norwich City Council bottom of the table with a collection rate of 94.6pc. It was owed �2.73m.

Breckland Labour leader Terry Jermy said the level of uncollected council tax meant council services could suffer as the authority tries to make savings of �3.5m in five years.

He said: “I think there will always be a level of uncollected tax, but you should always try to ensure you get as much as you can, and other areas are collecting more.”

However, Bill Smith, Breckland cabinet member for internal services, said the latest monthly figures showed it was now hitting all but one of its targets.

He said: “We were pretty close [last year] and the direction of travel is going up. I think on the whole Breckland is not doing too bad.

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“We would like to get 100pc but I’m afraid we have to live in the real world. If we do find people who are not willing to pay, we are not afraid to chase them up and take them to court.”

He said some of the people who had not paid had moved out of the district or their circumstances had changed through no fault of their own, and that would be taken into account.

The Anglian Revenues Partnership, which Breckland set up with Forest Heath District Council in 2003, provides council tax, business rates and benefits services for them and East Cambridgeshire and St Edmundsbury.