‘Barnsley folk are very good at paying bills - it’s a cultural thing’, says council finance chief

Barnsley Council is planning its council rises for the coming year
Barnsley Council is planning its council rises for the coming year
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The council tax rise imposed on residents in Barnsley is likely to be lower than this year’s inflation-busting increase of 4.5 per cent.

Council tax bills may still be in the process of landing on doormats but Barnsley Council has already calculated the likely rise householders will face next year.

People in Barnsley are very good at paying bills, it is a cultural thing. We benchmark really well in terms of collection rates.

Neil Copley

At this stage, the council’s financial team anticipate an increase of 3.5 per cent when bills for the 2019/20 financial year are issued.

Although that is likely to still outstrip inflation, which is currently around three per cent with the Government aiming to see it reduced, it would still mean a real world increase down on the current rise.

This year’s increase is so high because on top of the Government’s cap of a three per cent rise, Ministers have allowed councils to take another 1.5 per cent to be used specifically for adult social care, an area of spending where costs are spiralling as a result of an ageing population.

However, for the figures to stack up, it will mean council staff collecting as much outstanding council tax from residents and rates from businesses as they have in the past.

Neil Copley, the council’s service director for finance, has told councillors: “We have significant increases in council tax and less so for business rates.

“It is mainly council tax. It assumes we will collect what we always have collected,” he said.

He said the council’s track record on collecting council tax is strong, but the authority has also changed the way it collects its debts. “We work with people to work through these issues,” he said. “We have seen an increase in the collection rates in the last couple of years.

“People in Barnsley are very good at paying bills, it is a cultural thing. We benchmark really well in terms of collection rates.”

Barnsley also has a relatively stable population, so the council has fewer problems than some in chasing people who have left the area without settling their council tax debts.