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IRRV: COLLECTION RATES FALLING, SAYS BURTON

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Fewer people are paying council tax in London and other big cities than last year, the treasurer of Britain's bigge...
Fewer people are paying council tax in London and other big cities than last year, the treasurer of Britain's biggest council told delegates.

Roger Burton, Birmingham City Council's director of finance, said CIPFA and DoE returns indicated a fifth of all council taxes in London had not been collected in 1994- 95. This compared with 17% arrears in 1993-94.

Mr Burton said there had also been a slight increase in arrears in metropolitan districts. Birmingham had collected £3.4 million of council tax arrears last year - less than half the amount he had expected.

'We've still got a lot of tax payers paying off poll tax by arrangements and a significant number have yet to start paying council tax,' he said.

But the DoE said councils had improved collection rates for council tax throughout England.

- The area cost adjustment given to London and south-east councils, which costs the rest of the country £234 million a year, should be slashed, Mr Burton said.

He claimed the value of the adjustment, designed to offset higher costs in the south-east, has increased by nearly two-and-half times since its introduction in 1989. Total standard spending assessments had increased 40% over the same period.

The ACA assumed providing care for an old person cost councils in the south-east 32% more than it did elsewhere, Mr Burton said. It also assumed educating a child or maintaining a road was 25% cheaper in cities outside London.

He said no-one believed the costs of these core council services were that much higher in London and the south- east.

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