Exclusive: 3,500 council tax dodgers in Worcester slapped with court summons

Exclusive: 3,500 council tax dodgers in Worcester slapped with court summons

Exclusive: 3,500 council tax dodgers in Worcester slapped with court summons

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

MORE than 3,500 council tax dodgers in Worcester have been slapped with court summons - a shock 48 per cent rise in just four years.

Your Worcester News can exclusively reveal how over the last year 3,505 people have been sent letters instructing magistrates to tackle their non-payments after the city council got so fed up about their antics.

The tally has surged a staggering 48 per cent since 2010 - with frustrated council chiefs saying too many people are avoiding their responsibilities.

The shock findings have led to Worcester MP Robin Walker questioning whether "council tax is affordable" for many people and making a plea for the bill to be frozen next year.

The staggering tally of court summons over the last year led to £250,000 being clawed back on behalf of taxpayers and 2,995 liability orders from magistrates - meaning the culprits must pay it all back plus costs or risk being jailed.

The others avoided liability orders by settling their debts or agreeing repayment plans before they had to answer the courts.

Back in 2010/11 just 2,366 Worcester people were slapped with court summons, leading to concern many people on low incomes are struggling to pay.

Councillor Chris Mitchell, cabinet member for finance at the city council, said: "The data shows some people are either unable or unwilling to pay, and I know in some cases it will be people who decide, for whatever reason to prioritise other things - I don't believe all 3,500 can't pay.

"My message to those who find it difficult to pay is 'come and talk to us'.

"Council tax is vital revenue for the city and it's beholden on everyone to do their bit."

Mr Walker said: "I am quite concerned about these figures - it's not an optional tax, we all have to pay it and it does show how important it is to keep rates down.

"I wonder just how bad the figures would have been if it had not been frozen for so many years, maybe there's a lesson in that.

"There's a real cost to chasing all these non payers too."

In February the old Labour administration put council tax up nearly two per cent, but the new Tory leadership is aiming to freeze it in 2015.

The city council has urged people who struggle to pay to contact them "as early as possible" on 0300 333 9942.

Lesley Meagher, director of resources, said: "I'd urge anyone who is finding it difficult to pay their council tax to contact us as early as possible so we can discuss their situation and agree a realistic payment plan."

The council was unable to reveal how much the average debt was, saying the sums constantly change.

The sums relate to the 2013/14 financial year which closed at the end of March, when all but 2.6 per cent of council tax was left unpaid, leaving a gap of £1.1 million.

The council say some of that debt will not end up requiring a court summons, and that some of the 3,505 summonses in 2013/14 related to outstanding amounts from previous years.

Comments (6)

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9:39pm Thu 10 Jul 14

The Villan says...

I'm sorry but unless you are suffering from financial hardship, then there is no excuse not to pay the council tax like everyone else. There are benefits available for those on low incomes or are unemployed as far as I am aware.

In a democratic society everyone should pay their way if they can afford to, for those who ignore their responsibility and spend their money on nights out then I hope your arrears are taken from source.

I would say some of these 3500 are hardcore repeat offenders who are just ignoring the council tax. These are the ones who need targeting first and foremost.
I'm sorry but unless you are suffering from financial hardship, then there is no excuse not to pay the council tax like everyone else. There are benefits available for those on low incomes or are unemployed as far as I am aware. In a democratic society everyone should pay their way if they can afford to, for those who ignore their responsibility and spend their money on nights out then I hope your arrears are taken from source. I would say some of these 3500 are hardcore repeat offenders who are just ignoring the council tax. These are the ones who need targeting first and foremost. The Villan
  • Score: 20

12:54am Fri 11 Jul 14

Jabbadad says...

The Non -Rises of Council Tax that Robin Walker is talking about is not for the less well off, as previously said on here they get Council Tax reductions anyway, but Robin's appeal is for those Conservatives who live in big houses of high rateable value.
The day I hear Conservatives worrying about the less well off will be the day I take a reality check.
The Non -Rises of Council Tax that Robin Walker is talking about is not for the less well off, as previously said on here they get Council Tax reductions anyway, but Robin's appeal is for those Conservatives who live in big houses of high rateable value. The day I hear Conservatives worrying about the less well off will be the day I take a reality check. Jabbadad
  • Score: -9

12:56am Fri 11 Jul 14

Jabbadad says...

Oh and of course the huge rise in Council Tax nonpayments was under the CONservatives was it not?
Oh and of course the huge rise in Council Tax nonpayments was under the CONservatives was it not? Jabbadad
  • Score: -7

8:42am Fri 11 Jul 14

brooksider says...

Local Government minister Brandon Lewis said "Our council tax policies are working".

The Government's changes to Council Tax Benefit are taking effect.
Local Government minister Brandon Lewis said "Our council tax policies are working". The Government's changes to Council Tax Benefit are taking effect. brooksider
  • Score: -5

1:47pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Perfman says...

Jabbadad wrote:
Oh and of course the huge rise in Council Tax nonpayments was under the CONservatives was it not?
You'll find that there is a hardcore of non payers under any governement - the only major difference between oue LAIRbour council and the conservatives is .... the Conservatives froze the council TAX - LAIRbour's first action (almost) was to put up the cost - did those on low incomes benefit from the this rise? ........ um I seriously doubt it.....
[quote][p][bold]Jabbadad[/bold] wrote: Oh and of course the huge rise in Council Tax nonpayments was under the CONservatives was it not?[/p][/quote]You'll find that there is a hardcore of non payers under any governement - the only major difference between oue LAIRbour council and the conservatives is .... the Conservatives froze the council TAX - LAIRbour's first action (almost) was to put up the cost - did those on low incomes benefit from the this rise? ........ um I seriously doubt it..... Perfman
  • Score: 6

12:50pm Sat 12 Jul 14

Jabbadad says...

I meant under the CONservative Councils, who took the easy road to write off the council tax debts, whereas the Labour Council decided to go after these defaulters, and rightly so.
I am on a very limited income but as a full Council Tax payer I still supported the Council Tax rise (which was only a few pounds per year) so that perhaps some of the services being decimated / cut by the CONservatives might be saved.
Do you have monies such as Taxes which together become a useful / collective pool of money, or to people having just a few pounds more per year in their bank accounts, doing very little.
I meant under the CONservative Councils, who took the easy road to write off the council tax debts, whereas the Labour Council decided to go after these defaulters, and rightly so. I am on a very limited income but as a full Council Tax payer I still supported the Council Tax rise (which was only a few pounds per year) so that perhaps some of the services being decimated / cut by the CONservatives might be saved. Do you have monies such as Taxes which together become a useful / collective pool of money, or to people having just a few pounds more per year in their bank accounts, doing very little. Jabbadad
  • Score: -1

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