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Breckland council tax crackdown

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:53 07 July 2010

Rob Garratt

RESIDENTS who fail to pay their council tax bill have been dealt a stern message of warning as one Norfolk council launches its toughest crackdown on non-payers to date.

RESIDENTS who fail to pay their council tax bill have been dealt a stern message of warning as one Norfolk council launches its toughest crackdown on non-payers to date.

For the first time Breckland Council has taken the step of serving petitions for bankruptcy against a handful of residents who have failed to pay their bills. An estimated 98.5pc of residents pay off their council tax bills on time - but the council is getting tough on the 1.5pc who do

not.

Strategic manager Sharon Jones said: “It is only a very small minority who deliberately avoid payment that are being targeted.

“All our residents benefit from council services. These services are paid for by the money collected through council tax so it is only fair that everyone contributes.”

Six householders were served with court hearing dates for the coming

week after leaving a combined bill of more than £27,000 unpaid for longer than six months.

Two residents have since paid up their combined debt of £5,800, while the remaining four will face court hearings between now and the end of May to recoup more than £21,000 outstanding.

All the residents were issued their first statutory demand in October last year, and the majority of them are financially able to pay off the entire sum owing immediately.

Steve Wiseman, chief executive of Norfolk's central Citizen's Advice Bureau in Norwich, said these measures had been used by

other councils in the county

in the past.

He said: “The people they are going for probably haven't got any earnings so they can't attach orders to take money from their wage.

“This just highlights the need to take advice early on if people have problems with their finances. While we're coming out of the recession many people's households budgets are in disarray.”

The petitions for bankruptcy have been served by the Anglia Revenues Partnership, a partnership between Breckland, Forest Heath District Council and East Cambs District Council.

Ms Jones added: “We have always cracked down on those who do not pay their council tax and are proud of our record of ensuring that people pay what is owed.

“While in the past, court liability orders have enabled us to recoup money from people's salaries and benefits, continuing to use these methods while also using bankruptcy orders where necessary will ensure we recoup as much money as possible, even when people are declared insolvent.”

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