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Northampton missing millions in unpaid council tax

Terry Wire said the collection of council tax in Northampton was out of control

Terry Wire said the collection of council tax in Northampton was out of control

 

Residents of Northampton have failed to pay almost £7 million in council tax over the past seven years, latest figures have revealed.

Statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the amount of unpaid council tax in the town since 2005 stands at £6.7 million.

On top of that massive debt, a further £404,928 has built up in payments which should have been made sometime between 1992 and 2005.

The leader of the opposition at the Guildhall, Councillor Terry Wire (Lab, St James) said the level of debt and the fact payments were still due from several years ago suggested the system was “out of control”.

He said: “It’s totally unacceptable, because when this money isn’t collected, it has a direct impact on services.

“I realise we’re in difficult times and I do have sympathy with people who are struggling to pay, but we really should be collecting this money. It seems however that there’s a total inability to get hold of this problem and deal with it.”

Northampton Borough Council collects council tax to pay for its own services as well as those provided by the police and the county council.

The money is used to fund services as diverse as libraries, rubbish collection and policing.

Despite the large amount of money which still remains unpaid, the borough council’s cabinet member for finance, Councillor Alan Bottwood (Con, Upton) argued the vast majority of bills were collected on time.

He said: “Almost £100 million in council tax needs to be collected each year and we collect almost 98 per cent of those payments in full and on time.

“And any uncollected council tax is not written off. In the current economic climate there are people who have changing circumstances and are unable to pay or are struggling to manage their bills. In these situations we help people look at their finances and work out affordable payment plans. However, if we find someone is refusing to pay we’ll take action which could lead to pursuing the matter through court.”

People who have problems with council tax bills can call the Guildhall on 0300 3307000 for advice.

More than £7 million is owed in unpaid council tax in Northampton.

The amount left owing by year is:

Before 2005: £404,928

2005-06: £275,932

2006-07: £421,421

2007-08: £586,655

2008-09: £791,532

2009-10: £1,018,292

2010-11: £1,357,241

2011-12: £2,252,506

The total amount of money owed by Northampton’s taxpayers at the end of September 2012 was £7,108,512.

 

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