COUNCIL tax collection levels in Inverclyde are falling as defaults increase among people who pay the charge by cash.

The amount being taken in by the local authority is lower than it has been in recent years, according to latest figures.

Now moves are afoot to try and haul in more cash, by providing debt advice help to households which may be struggling.

An update on the downard trend was provided in a report compiled by the chief financial officer at the Municipal Buildings, Alan Puckrin.

The paper, which covers different issues relating to the finance service, is set to be discussed by councillors next week.

It says: 'Council tax collection levels continue to be lower than recent years with collection at December 31 being 0.9 per cent lower than at the same point in 2019/20, the comparator year.

'The projected in-year collection of between 94 per cent and 94.5 per cent is up to 1.9 per cent lower than 2022/23, when 95.9 per cent was collected, the highest ever collection rate when many council taxpayers were assisted by £5m in Covid and cost-of-living one-off grants.'

According to the update set to be presented to councillors, collection levels have dropped among residents who use cash to settle their bills.

The report said: 'Analysis indicates that whilst direct debit payments are largely being maintained, it is within those who pay by cash, which tends to include those on lower incomes, where collection levels have reduced.

'The service continues to focus on ensuring council taxpayers are billed correctly and on time and to signpost those with debt to advice services.'

Chief financial officer Mr Puckrin will assess the level of council tax collection to be factored into the 2024/26 budget after considering the latest information on payments =.

According to the report, each 0.1 per cent reduction in the ultimate collection rate slashes income for the council by approximately £35,000.

Councillors will discuss the situation at a meeting of the policy and resources committee to be held in the Municipal Buildings on Tuesday afternoon.