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Top billing for Council Tax Collection

Issued: 14 Aug 2007

A 10.3% rise in the rate of Council Tax collection over the past 10 years has seen The Highland Council move higher up the collections~ league table in this period than any other local authority in Scotland.

The collection rate at the end of the 2006-7 financial year has risen to 95.4%, which has delighted Councillor Carolyn Wilson, Chairman of the Council's Resources Committee.

She said: "I am delighted by the progress achieved by dedicated teams of professionals. By way of illustration, each 1% in 2006/2007 alone raised £860,000, so the efficiency gain over the last 10 years has been remarkable. Collection and recovery action also continues after the close of each year, with collection rates eventually reaching about 98%. This has allowed the Council to maintain and, where possible, improve services, even in times of difficult financial settlements."

Apart from sound processes, tight management controls and well trained staff; the Council has heavily promoted the use of Direct Debit as the most cost-effective and easiest method of payment. 59.4% of Council taxpayers already pay in this way. It offers the flexibility of paying over 10 or 12 months, and for 2007/2008 it is also possible for customers to pay quarterly, fortnightly, or even weekly.

Success has also been recorded in the work carried out by the Council on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in processing Council Tax Benefits and Housing Benefits. In the first quarter of 2007/2008, all DWP performance targets were met, with new claims being administered in 27 days against a national target of 30, and current claims being dealt with in 10 days. The Council's accuracy rate for benefit processing was 99.2%.

Later this year, the Finance Service will be implementing the latest digital technology with a view to improving efficiency and customer service even further.

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