Posted: Tue 17th Nov 2020

Almost £6m of council tax and business rates goes unpaid in since start of

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2020

Almost £6m worth of taxes have gone unpaid in Flintshire since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to newly released figures.

Flintshire Council has been adopting a “soft approach” to enforcement against non-payment in light of the financial hardship experienced by some residents and business owners since the emergency situation began in March.

However, it has emerged that the local authority is £5.8m behind its collection targets for council tax and business rates for the current financial year.

Officials said the council was continuing to provide support and advice to people facing money problems, but formal debt recovery procedures have restarted to target those who repeatedly fail to pay their bills.

Highlighting the position on business rates in a report to cabinet members, chief executive Colin Everett said: “The first and second stages of ‘soft’ enforcement for businesses who are falling into debt and who have not made any contact with us has been completed.

“As income is £4.46m less than target at September, formal debt processes re-commenced in August, starting with those businesses who have not paid nor engaged with the council and who owe several months of unpaid non-domestic Rates.

“We continue to engage with businesses to provide flexible payment agreements.

“However, businesses who fail to engage or pay, will now continue to be tracked and progressed through the debt recovery systems.”

He added a number of cases were taken to magistrates court last month after businesses had ignored requests for payment.

In relation to council tax, the authority has offered extended payments or signposting to a discount scheme for people struggling to keep up with their bills.

But Mr Everett said court action would also follow for residents refusing to engage with the council.

He said: “The re-commencement of recovery is now helping to increase income levels and at the end of September resulted in being £1.34m off-target – but an improvement on the previous month.

“This ongoing risk is being taken into account in the review of the medium term financial strategy.”

The report will be discussed by members of the ruling Labour administration at a meeting tomorrow, Tuesday,  November 17.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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