LEGAL action has been taken against hundreds of Huntingdonshire households for failure to pay Council Tax.

Last week, Huntingdon Magistrates' Court issued 1,800 Liability Orders for non-payment, giving Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) options for collecting the debt, including deductions from benefits or calling in bailiffs.

There has been an unprecedented increase in people failing to pay their rates following changes to the benefits system which came in on April 1.

A national Council Tax benefit scheme was scrapped and HDC receives a fixed grant which it has to decide how to spend.

Many people who had previously paid nothing towards their bills, such as unemployed people of working age, now have to contribute at least 20 per cent. Others have to make a bigger contribution than previously.

HDC sent reminder notices in May and those that did not respond, some 2,290, 700 more than in the same period last year, received a summons.

Jo Lancaster, HDC's managing director, said: "Council Tax has to be paid and I urge anyone who has received a Liability Order, or a reminder notice, to contact the local taxation team on 01480 388030 as soon as possible, to discuss a payment arrangement."