More Renfrewshire residents are spreading council tax payments over 12 months as the cost-of-living crisis looks to have impacted collection levels this year.

Just under £87 million of a billable sum of around £101m for 2023/24 had been collected by late December – representing a rate of 85.83 per cent, which is down from 87.22 per cent last year.

A report, which was discussed at the council’s finance, resources and customer services policy board on Thursday, said: “The lower comparable position is due to Scottish Government funded cost-of-living awards (COLA) being credited to council tax accounts in 2022/23, but no such provision has been made for 2023/24. These awards totalled £9,432,000 by April 28, 2022.

“It is anticipated that the percentage decrease will lessen over the remaining months of the year similarly to the pattern of increases last year which lessened as the year developed.

“Over and above the COLA effect, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis appears to be having some impact on the level of collection this year. There is a greater volume of customers asking to spread instalments over 12 months and collection from customers who have partial support from council tax reduction is less than last year.

"These are indicators that customers are struggling to pay and as a result, the collection rate is likely to be lower this year.”

Commenting on the report, Councillor Graeme Clark, Labour representative for Paisley Northeast and Ralston, said the drop was unsurprising as residents deal with the fallout from a harsh economic climate.

“I note there’s a decrease of 1.4 per cent in the collection this year,” he said. “That’s not surprising given the cost-of-living crisis.

“I’ve already raised at Fairer Renfrewshire that perhaps we could do a little better in our communication on how to plan payments and indeed about advice on how to catch up with payments when people fall behind.

“I also spoke about a considered approach to the way debts are collected. I wonder, do we have any predicted idea of the outcome at the end of this financial year with regard to the collection of council tax?”

Emma Shields, the council’s strategic service delivery manager, responded: “It’s very difficult to do a like-for-like comparison because of the effect of the cost-of-living awards, but we are predicting that the collection rate will be slightly less than it was last year, based on the indicators that we’re seeing and taking account, as much as possible, of that effect of the cost-of-living awards.”