LEGAL action is being taken against hundreds of taxpayers in Burton and East Staffordshire over unpaid bills amounting to more than a whopping £640,000.
East Staffordshire Borough Council has asked Stafford Magistrates’ Court to grant liability orders against 435 people for non-payment of council tax, and a further 44 individuals for failing to pay non-domestic – or business – rates.
Most of the debt relates to the current financial year, which ends on March 31, with the total amount of outstanding council tax £186,987.32 and the unpaid business rates figure a staggering £456,916.16.
Burton MP Andrew Griffiths said: “I think it is important that the council does all it can to recoup unpaid council tax, because otherwise these costs end up getting added to the bills of people who do pay.
“The council works very hard with people in arrears to give them the help and support, but it is right that the borough council has a good track record of collecting tax.”
Robert Oxley, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “With budgets tight, local authorities can’t afford to leave millions of pounds in tax uncollected.
“Keeping council tax low is the easiest way to ensure people don’t struggle to pay, while the council should always differentiate those who can’t pay and those who won’t pay.
“Tough action should be taken on those who refuse, while others who are simply struggling with rising bills should be helped with easier ways to pay.” A spokesman for the council said: “The council must follow procedures set down in law when recovering unpaid tax and rates.
“If any council tax payer or non-domestic rates payer is experiencing difficulties in paying at any time after their initial bill is sent, we urge them to contact us as soon as possible by calling our revenues team on 01283 508030 or visiting our customer service centre in the Market Place, Burton, or at the library in Uttoxeter.”
A liability order is a demand for a person to pay the full amount they owe, plus costs. They have the right to attend court to say why they think they should not have to pay.
The council may use methods of recovery against debtors such as deductions from earnings or benefits.