Herefordshire faces a mounting problem of unpaid council tax – and more people are getting away with it, new figures show.

The amount passed to Herefordshire Council’s enforcement agents for recovery this year is set to be more than double the figure for two years ago, according to figures released under a Freedom of Information request.

In 2021, it flagged up unpaid tax worth £1,418,466 for enforcement, of which £530,847, or over 37 per cent, was collected.

In 2022, the figure to be retrieved rose sharply to £2,572,235, of which over 34 per cent was recovered.

This year so far, £2,081,328 has already been passed to enforcement agents, who have managed to retrieve just £489,475 – a share of less than 24 per cent.

Extrapolated to the end of the year, that points to a likely figure of over £3.1 million unpaid tax for 2023, with less than £750,000 likely to be retrieved through enforcement, leaving a £2.35 million shortfall.


When in 2019 the council awarded its current enforcement contract, to Redditch-based bailiffs Bristow & Sutor, it said that the £2 million outstanding council tax in that year arose from around 3,000 households, each owing an average of £670.

That suggests the number of households in trouble is now over 4,500, out the 85,000 in the county.

In common with most English local authorities, Herefordshire’s council tax went up by 5 per cent in April, and is expected to contribute around £127 million to council coffers this financial year.

Some households are exempt from paying, either through the council tax reduction scheme for hard-up families, or because they are foster carers or young care leavers.