More than £4 million tax owed in city
Tax-avoiders still owe more than £4 million to the public coffers from the previous financial year.
Figures released by Peterborough City Council show about £4.6 million is still outstanding in unpaid business rates and council tax from the 2011/12 financial year, which ended in April.
But council bosses have vowed not to give up and to continue to claw back every penny.
A council spokesman said: “In the last month alone we have collected £300,000 in council tax and more than £1 million in business rates.
“We do not stop here. We will carry on collecting what is owed, even resorting to court action if we have to.
“But clearly we urge people to contact us if they are struggling to pay their bills.”
At the beginning of March, the figure was up at £9 million for uncollected business rates and council tax in 2011/12.
By the end of the month it had dropped to a total of £5.9 million and since then it has fallen another £1.3 million.
Everyone is sent an initial council tax and business rate bill at the start of the financial year, followed by a reminder for those who do not keep up with payments.
A final notice is sent to anyone who has not paid for at least 14 days, before a summons is issued warning that unless payment is made within two weeks a liability order will be made.
Each month hundreds of people are taken to court for falling behind with payments. In one day in March alone, 467 people were summoned to court many of whom paid up before any further action was taken.
Finance chiefs at the town hall insist the figures are no more or less than previous years and are not concerned. Their actions have also drawn praise from MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson.
He said: “Credit where it is due, I think the city council was mindful of the fact that people were seeing a council tax rise and has upped its collection rates accordingly. They were obviously concerned that other people were not paying their bills.
“I think the council is going in the right direction. It is a good sign and I hope they keep up the pressure.”
But Robert Oxley, from the Tax- Payers’ Alliance, was critical of the council particularly after it raised council tax for this financial year.
He said: “With budgets tight, local authorities can’t afford to leave millions of pounds in tax uncollected. The council has to be clear about why there’s such a difference between what’s owed and what’s been paid. Council chiefs’ decision to increase council tax at a time when many residents are already struggling with rising bills will only make this problem worse.”
For more information on council tax call 01733 452258 or for business rates ring 01733 452252.
tax: Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson.