FoI request reveals 4 out of 5 travellers don't pay council tax

Statistics obtained by the Sunday Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that four out of five travellers do not pay council tax even though they are legally obliged to. Traveller sites have a payment rate of 17 per cent, compared with the national average of 97 per cent.

According to the Telegraph, a large part of the shortfall occurs because the Valuation Office Agency, the government quango that oversees the system's operation, will not "band" caravans on traveller sites until they have been there for 12 months. This has resulted in many councils being unable to issue bills - even though they are obliged to provide services, such as education and waste collection, for travellers.

The number of unauthorised sites has increased by 38 per cent since 1997, to 4,264. They are estimated to cost farmers around £100 million a year in damages and other expenses. The Government is currently preparing its revaluation exercise for England, which is expected to be completed by 2010.

Most travellers dodge council tax (Sunday Telegraph, 13 November 2005)