Northumberland County Council collected over £5m less in council tax than expected during the first half of the financial year, figures reveal.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic means some councils may soon face difficult trade-offs for what they can afford.

Figures from an IFS report show Northumberland County Council forecasted it would collect a total £212.2 million from council tax requirements in 2020-21 – 5.7% more than the year before.

With council tax collected over 10 months, its expected income in the first half of the year was £120.9 million but it collected just £115.8 million.

This means the council collected around £5.2 million less than it hoped to in the first two quarters.

The IFS says some councils allow people to defer bills, so their receipts for the second half of the year may be much higher.

However, it warned that councils across England expect to collect £1.3 billion less council tax this year than they forecast, with some areas suffering more than others.

Differences in the amount of council tax collected over the first half of 2020-21 vary regionally.

The figure fell by 1.4% in London compared to the same period a year earlier, but rose by 1.7% in the South West.

In the North East, it fell by 1.3% – the second biggest drop – and the IFS said any increases were still substantially smaller than was expected before the Covid-19 crisis.

And it added that as councils in the south rely more on council tax, the shortfalls in their revenues will be similar to those in the north of England, relative to their overall funding.

Kate Ogden, a research economist at IFS and co-author of the report, said: “The Government has agreed to cover 75% of this shortfall, and to provide £670 million to help fund means-tested discounts in 2021–22.

“However, if this support is then withdrawn, those councils seeing the biggest long-term impacts of the crisis on employment and household incomes may face particularly difficult trade-offs between cutting this means-tested support or cutting funding for at least some other services in 2022–23 and beyond.”

Councils nationwide might be collecting less council tax because of people failing to pay bills, or becoming eligible for support, the IFS said.

Figures from the report show 17,328 working age residents in Northumberland were claiming Local Council Tax Support between July and September last year, and 17,841 between April and June.

This means the council will take in £15.8 million less in council tax revenue in 2020-21 than it could have – up from £13.6 million in 2019-20.

The Local Government Association said it was encouraged by the Government’s pledge to compensate 75% of lost income, but warned that the remaining 25% – potentially more than £250 million – is “considerable”.

It is calling on the Government to revise its funding package in next month’s Budget and meet the financial challenges of Covid-19 “in full”.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the Government has committed over £11 billion to support councils in England.

A spokesman added: “This includes a guarantee to meet 75% of losses in council tax and business rates income this year, worth an estimated £800 million, and £670 million of new funding to enable them to continue reducing council tax bills next year.”