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No hiding place for council tax dodgers in Hyndburn
ROBUST measures to tackle residents dodging council tax were introduced yesterday.
Hyndburn Council has seen an increase in the number of non-payers, and said the issue was costing several million pounds.
A new policy has outlined a raft of measures to chase outstanding debt and to also target businesses failing to pay rates.
Three reminders will be sent, after which residents will lose the ability to pay monthly, and a court summons will follow if the letters are ignored.
Deputy leader of the council, Coun Joan Smith, said: “It will now be obvious what will happen if people don’t pay. I appreciate some people are struggling but because of the government cutting our funding we have to be very robust in pursuing people for their debts.”
Coun Smith said the council was forced to act after changes to the benefits system meant people who previously received council tax support were now having to pay their ‘fair share’.
She said: “A lot of people did not have to pay because they were on council tax benefits, and the government would give us that money back.
“But now the government’s policy has changed, and they think everybody should pay their fair share. It’s a substantial amount of money.”
Coun Smith said the council could not afford to write off debt accrued by people not paying their tax bills, although help would be made available for those who contact the council struggling to pay.
The number of people hauled before the courts has increased over recent years, the council said. Coun Smith described Hyndburn as a ‘deprived’ borough and said people must not ‘bury their heads in the sand’ and ignore their debt problems.
She said: “When people are struggling, and they tell us about it, we will signpost them to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and others.
“We can sit down with them and sort out a payment plan, and may be able to offer weekly payments.
“I do appreciate this is difficult for a lot of people. This is something we are being made to do by the government. We would be talking about several million pounds if we did not pass it on to people.”
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