NEWPORT and Blaenau Gwent recorded the joint lowest in-year collection rates for council tax in Wales last year, according to figures revealing £83 million is owed in council tax across the country.

However, council tax collection as a whole was at the highest rate since it began, and Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent, were the best performing councils compared to their predicted collection rate.

The annual report was published by Welsh Government and included information on amounts collected, arrears and amounts written off. In the last financial year, local authorities collected 97 per cent of council tax billed, up less than half a per cent on the previous year.

This is the highest collection rate since the introduction of council tax.

According to the report, 17 authorities recorded a year on year increase in their collection rate in 2013/14, with Monmouthshire showing the joint highest rate at 97.9 per cent, up 0.7 per cent on the previous year, and Newport the lowest at 95.7 per cent, down 0.1 per cent.

In comparison, Caerphilly’s collection rate was unchanged at 96.4 per cent; Blaenau Gwent’s in-year collection rate had increased from 95.3 to 95.7 per cent, but was still the joint lowest in Wales; and Torfaen’s in-year collection figure had jumped from 96.9 per cent to 97.4 per cent.

Blaenau Gwent’s predicted rate had been just 93.5 per cent while Torfaen’s was 95 per cent.

Last year billing authorities collected £30 million of arrears in respect of previous years and wrote off £6 million as bad debts.

In terms of in-year arrears, Newport has £2 million outstanding; Monmouthshire £1.1 million; Torfaen £850,000; Blaenau Gwent £1 million; and Caerphilly £1.9 million, but many residents pay via direct debit.

The total amount outstanding at March 31 this year was £83 million, of which £36 million was in-year arrears.