Official figures show that nearly £750m in council tax went unpaid in England last year as collection rates fell for only the second time since the tax was introduced in 2003-4. The Audit Commission said councils in England gathered on average 97% of what they were owed in 2013/14, down 0.4% on the previous year. The total of uncollected tax rose to £2.38bn. Town halls said spending cuts meant more people were "struggling to pay". "While collection rates are high ... when we consider such large sums of taxpayers' money, even a small percentage shift can produce substantial changes in the income councils have to deliver their services," said Audit Commission chairman Jeremy Newman. However, the Local Government Association blamed the Treasury, suggesting town halls had a much better record on collecting taxes than Whitehall. Chairman David Sparks said "The slight increase in unpaid council tax will come as little surprise to those in local government, who warned that this would be a consequence of government cutting funding for council tax support". The LGA is calling for action in next week's Autumn Statement to give councils more power to set council tax discounts locally.