Eight face court over council tax debts
EIGHT people were recently summoned to appear in court for failing to pay council tax. One man had not paid any for almost five years – and now owes more than £5,300 to Sefton Council.
Warrants were issued for six people after they failed to attend South Sefton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, October 24.
The two who did attend were given payment plans, with new court dates set for January next year.
Council tax debt is not a crime, but magistrates can still jail those with council tax arrears for up to three months.
More than 60 people were locked up in England and Wales in 2016-17.
Council tax pays for local services, such as transport, police, fire, libraries, leisure and recreation, rubbish collection and disposal, envir-onmental health and trading standards.
A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “We will always do our best to collect what is rightly owed to us and feel we offer many valuable services through the income we receive from our council tax and business rates.
“For rare cases like these to get to the
Non-payment of council tax is not a crime – but magistrates can still send non-payers to prison for up to three months court stage, the council will have attempted all other options, including reminder letters, final notices and recovery action, beforehand.“We treat the courts as a very last resort.“Everyone who is required to pay their council tax and business rate bills should do so, and anyone who is struggling should contact us directly where we can try and help.”Failure to pay on time could result in your local council taking recovery action against you. Following this, you could then be summoned to court.Chris Henley, QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “Non-payment of council tax is anti-social, and costs the public purse, but imprisonment is wholly disproportionate to the harm caused.“There are many significant and more approp-riate penalties short of imprisonment that should be imposed, whether attachment of earnings orders, unpaid com-munity work, or curfew orders.“Every prison place costs a small fortune and can have very negative consequences on close family, particularly children.”IF you are struggling to pay your council tax, contact Sefton Council, who will be able to assist and advise you further.