Council tax defaulters could face jail

FOUR Huntingdonshire residents with serious Council Tax arrears picked up go-to-jail cards from Huntingdonshire magistrates last week. They risk being put behind bars as soon as they miss a single repayment. And a further 10, who failed to turn up for the

FOUR Huntingdonshire residents with serious Council Tax arrears picked up go-to-jail cards from Huntingdonshire magistrates last week. They risk being put behind bars as soon as they miss a single repayment.

And a further 10, who failed to turn up for their hearings, were put at risk of being arrested on sight by police and hauled before the court.

Magistrates found the four guilty of culpable neglect in their failure to pay - meaning that they had the means to pay, but did not - and set amounts by which the arrears should be regularly reduced.

Peter Cooney of Market Square, St Neots, who owes £4,096.22, was committed to prison for three months, suspended as long as he keeps up payments of £100 per week.


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Forty-five-day jail terms await Jacqueline Pask of Daffodil Court, Yaxley, who owes £2,043.42 and must maintain payments of £40 per fortnight to avoid incarceration, Steve Roberts of Willow Walk Park Homes, Wyton (£1,147.33 at £10 per week, to be reviewed when he returns to work after a recent accident) and Grace Groom of Garner Court, Huntingdon (£1,348.37 at £40 per month).

Julia Barber, head of revenues at Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "We are determined not to allow debtors who have the means to pay to get away with not paying.

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"Why should the majority, who pay regularly, have to subsidise those who refuse to do so? If they won't pay, then we'll take them to court which will make a decision about their ability to pay and then make a court order for them to pay their Council Tax. The court also adds on court costs, so the debtor always has to pay more than if they had paid in the first place."

Asking the court to jail those who wilfully refuse to pay or do not pay when they could is a last resort. Magistrates can impose sentences of up to three months.

INFORMATION: Anyone who has Council Tax arrears, but does not have an arrangement to pay, should contact HDC's recovery team on 01480 388030. To claim Council Tax Benefit call 01480 388308 for advice. To report someone who is claiming Council Tax discounts or exemptions to which they are not entitled call the local taxation section on 01480 338030.

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