Residents are being warned not to ignore their council tax payments – even when times are hard or Black Friday events are looming – as two people are given suspended sentences for non payment.
The council offers a whole raft of measures to help people who are having financial problems and difficulty paying but unfortunately some people are choosing to ignore the issue in the hope the council won’t track them down.
Three people who had managed to dodge paying for up to 20 years recently found out the level of persistence the council has employed to make sure other residents don’t have to suffer a loss in services or have to pay more because others don’t pay at all.
Mr RJ had avoided paying council tax since 2008 and had amassed a debt of £10,752.70. After numerous letters and summonses which were ignored, the council tracked him down and applied for a committal hearing. On receiving this summons Mr RJ attended MyCouncil and paid the whole debt in full. He admitted he thought the council wouldn’t bother with him after all that time.
Mr RS hadn’t paid council tax since 1997 despite reminders, letters, summonses to court, liability orders and finally a warrant for his arrest. He had even moved house to another town in an attempt to avoid the debt of £20,071.81. After being tracked down via social media to his new address, another warrant was issued for his arrest. He has now been convicted of culpable neglect, received a 90-day suspended sentence and ordered to pay £100 a month or risk jail.
Ms S had been avoiding paying council tax for 15 years building up a debt of £11,963.95. Despite claiming she didn’t realise she had to pay council tax at all, the court found her guilty of culpable neglect. She now has until 15 December to pay the debt in full or risk a 90 day jail sentence.
Councillor Sohail Munawar, leader of the council said: “These cases are extreme and where people have gone to great lengths to avoid council tax payments but they show our commitment to ensuring people who can pay do so.
“We offer a whole range of help for people if they are genuinely having difficulty paying their council tax; all they need to do is contact us.
“We know times are tough, finances are tight and the run up to Christmas is one of the most expensive for people so I would encourage people to get in touch at the earliest time so we can help make sure the debt doesn’t get out of hand and land people in court.”
He continued: “Council tax is vital to our ability to provide services; from universal services like bin collections to services for the most vulnerable in our society.
“As our funding from government has shrunk, council tax has become an even more important part of paying for those services and we will continue to pursue those who don’t pay when they can.
“So if you have a problem paying council tax, please get in touch; avoiding the issue won’t make it go away and we can help you.”
If you need help paying your council tax please call 01753 475111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org