HEREFORDSHIRE council collected over £3 million less in council tax than expected during the first half of the financial year, figures reveal.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic means some councils may soon face difficult trade-offs for what they can afford.

Figures from an IFS report show Herefordshire Council forecasted it would collect a total £136.3 million from council tax requirements in 2020-21 – 5.2% more than the year before.

With council tax collected over 10 months, its expected income in the first half of the year was £79.4 million but it collected just £76.1 million.

This means the council collected around £3.3 million less than it hoped to in the first two quarters.

The IFS says some councils allow people to defer bills, so their receipts for the second half of the year may be much higher.

However, it warned that councils across England expect to collect £1.3 billion less council tax this year than they forecast, with some areas suffering more than others.

Differences in the amount of council tax collected over the first half of 2020-21 vary regionally.

The figure fell by 1.4% in London compared to the same period a year earlier, but rose by 1.7% in the South West.

In the West Midlands, it rose by 0.7% – but the IFS said any increases were still substantially smaller than was expected before the Covid-19 crisis.

And it added that as councils in the south rely more on council tax, the shortfalls in their revenues will be similar to those in the north of England, relative to their overall funding.

Councils nationwide might be collecting less council tax because of people failing to pay bills, or becoming eligible for support, the IFS said.

Figures from the report show 4,978 working age residents in Herefordshire were claiming Local Council Tax Support between July and September last year, and 4,984 between April and June.

This means the council will take in £5.6 million less in council tax revenue in 2020-21 than it could have – up from £5 million in 2019-20.