More than £4 mil­lion tax owed in city

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk&world Update - By BEN TRUSLOVE ben.truslove@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk @Et­ben­truslove

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.

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