COUNCIL officers in Swansea and Carmarthenshire continue to chase millions of pounds of unpaid council tax.

At the end of the 2018-19 financial year Swansea council was £3.5 million short of the £117 million it expected to receive, on top of historic council tax arrears of £4.1 million.

At the same time, Carmarthenshire council was £2.7 million short of what it expected to receive.

Both authorities were keen to point out they collected between 97% and 98% of the total payable amount in 2018-19, and will endeavour to track down those who owe money.

A Swansea council spokeswoman said some of this outstanding money would be paid back in long-term installments, while enforcement action could also be necessary against those who did not pay.

She said the authority did not expect to collect every last penny of council tax, but that it was reluctant to write off debts.

“This is why we take all the steps we can to collect council tax, as it would be unfair and unreasonable to those who do pay if we did not,” she said.

The figures follow a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporter service.

All Welsh authorities have been feeling a long-term financial squeeze from central Governments, and council tax is one way they can control income, although it only accounts for around a quarter of their revenue budget.

Council tax in Swansea rose by just under 6% on April 1 this year, while Carmarthenshire’s increased by just under 5%.

Council officers are also trying to recover housing benefit which was overpaid to claimants who didn’t notify the authorities of relevant changes in their circumstances.

The housing benefit overpayment figure for Swansea in 2018-19 was just over £2 million, but it also managed to recover £1.8 million of historic arrears.

It was a similar picture across the Loughor Bridge, where Carmarthenshire Council overpaid housing benefit to the tune of £1.1 million, and retrieved £1.07 million.

Housing benefit is being replaced by Universal Credit.

A Carmarthenshire council spokeswoman urged people in receipt of housing benefit to tell the authority immediately if their circumstances changed.

“When a change of circumstance notification is received, it is categorised as likely to cause an overpayment so the claim will automatically be suspended to prevent any further overpayment,” she said.

“The benefits officer will then review the case and advise the customer if any further information is required.”

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