More council tax debts collected

June 3, 2008 12:00 AM

Rochdale's Finance Boss - Councillor Greg CouzensMore people paid their council tax to Rochdale Borough Council on time in the last 12 months, compared with the previous year.

According to new figures, during the period April 2007 to March 2008, 95.6% of council tax was collected within the year. The remaining 4.4% (around £2.8m) will be chased up by council officers to ensure that as much as possible is collected. For 2006-7, the in-year collection rate was 94.6%.

The increase in the proportion of people in the Rochdale borough settling their bills bucks the regional and national trend - with many councils' collection rates remaining the same or even decreasing.

Councillor Greg Couzens, cabinet member for finance on Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Our Revenues and Benefits staff have worked incredibly hard this year to reduce the amount of money owed to us in unpaid council tax and I'd like to thank them for that. I would also like to stress that those people who continue to evade us will be caught and made to settle their debts, even if that means court action being taken against them. It's important to stress that the vast majority of people do pay their council tax - but it would be unfair on them for us to simply write off outstanding debts of non-payers, so I'd like to reassure people that we won't do that."

In addition to the £62m collected relating to 2007-8 council tax bills, a further £2.6m of outstanding debt from previous years was recovered - reducing the amount owed to the authority from £6.6m to just under £4m. Officers at the council are chasing up council tax evaders and those that refuse to pay or agree to payment plans will continue to be prosecuted.

Over the last 12 months even more people in the borough have signed up to pay their council tax by direct debit, with 65% of bills now being settled by automatic bank transfers.

Simon Bailey, head of Rochdale Borough Council's Revenues and Benefits service, said: "Paying by direct debit is a simple way for you to make sure that your bill is paid on time and in full so that you don't have to worry about falling into debt with us. It also helps the council to run more efficiently."

You can pay your council tax in a number of ways - including through the council website or over the telephone with a debit card. You can also make a payment at any Post Office or PayPoint outlet. For further details see:

www.rochdale.gov.uk/counciltax