Agenda item

Payment of Council Tax - Councillors


A report of the Director of Finance was presented to outline the Council’s position and approach in regards to the collection of Council Tax from Councillors and the obligations on Councillors in relation to meeting payment requests.  The report also provided information on Councillors’ compliance with their legal duties in relation to the payment of Council Tax.


The payment of Council Tax was a statutory obligation, governed by the Local Government Finance Act 1992. Payment of Council Tax was due at regular intervals, usually on a monthly basis.  Should non-payment result in further action, the legislation was clear on the stages that could be taken to secure payment. 


Where payment was not made as indicated on the bill, a reminder notice was issued within 14 days of the amount becoming overdue.  If payment was still not forthcoming, the account would be selected for a summons and the full year’s council tax would become payable. 


If full payment was not received, the Council would make a request to the Courts for a Liability Order.  If granted, a Liability Order provided additional powers to recover monies due.   In respect of Councillors, one of these powers was an attachment to the Councillor’s allowances.   If an attachment was undertaken, a percentage of the Councillor’s allowance could be deducted on a monthly basis until the amount due was cleared.


Middlesbrough Council had 46 Councillors, excluding the elected Mayor, and 87.5% of Councillors paid their Council Tax by monthly direct debit,  with the remainder choosing to pay by cash on a monthly basis.


The legislation which governed the payment of Council Tax and the obligations of Councillors was contained within Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (LGFA 1992).  This legislation made it a criminal offence for any Councillor who had arrears of Council Tax outstanding for two months or more to attend any meeting at which a decision affecting the Council’s budget was to be taken, unless the Councillor concerned declared at the outset of the meeting that they were in arrears and would not be voting on the decision for that reason.


Checks made dated back to 2015, confirmed that no Councillor had been excluded from voting, albeit a small number might have fallen behind with payment.  All Councillors’ accounts were up to date and in some instances the full year’s amount had been paid.


Revenues Service provided monthly checks against each Councillor’s account.  Notification was forwarded to Democratic Services should any Councillor hit triggers and fall behind with payment by two months or more.


It was highlighted that, although the Service undertook these checks, the responsibility for meeting payment obligations and raising non-payment issues, rested entirely with the Councillor, as it also applied to any other resident within the borough. The Council did not provide any variation in service that would result in Councillors being treated preferentially over other residents.


It was accepted that payment difficulties could arise, and support and payment plans could be put in place for Councillors in the same way as they could for residents.  Paragraph 27 of the Members’ Code of Conduct,  attached at Appendix A to the submitted report, provided that Councillors must, at the earliest opportunity, make arrangements to repay.   Any service response to this situation would be dealt with confidentially, provided non-payment had not resulted in other action.


Section 4 and Section 8 of the Members Handbook, attached at Appendix B to the submitted report, provided Councillors with the information pertaining to S106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.


AGREED that the information provided was received and noted.

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