Hundreds face court for not paying council tax during Covid
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012
Hundreds of people face being taken to court for failing to make council tax payments during the coronavirus outbreak, it has been revealed.
Two Norfolk councils have issued around 500 summonses for the non-payment of council tax during the Covid-19 crisis.
Broadland and South Norfolk Councils have summoned more than 200 and almost 300 people to court respectively.
It came just before England entered a second period of national lockdown, which prime minister Boris Johnson has said will last for four weeks, ending on December 2.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the furlough scheme to support jobs and businesses during lockdown, amid fears of a wave of job losses and closures during a second shutdown.
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The summonses were issued at the end of October to council tax non-payers but were restricted to residents who were not receiving benefit payments to support them.
People receiving council tax benefit in Broadland and South Norfolk have been given reductions of £150 on their bills.
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The South Norfolk cabinet member for finance, Josh Worley, said: “We always encourage people who are having financial difficulties to talk to us so that we can help with their problems.
“Through our help hub we can offer specialised debt advice and help and advice in applying for benefits and financial aid.
“We only take cases to court as a last resort if people will not talk to us about the problems they are facing and why they are not paying their council tax.”
He added: “We have held off on taking court action since March and we are only taking action against those who will not engage with us.
“Anyone who is facing financial difficulties in South Norfolk should call our Help Hub on 01508 533933.”
The council usually summonses people to court on a monthly basis but suspended this action during the pandemic.
And the two authorities normally issue more than 2,000 summonses annually.
But the councils paused legal action until now, opting instead to send households reminder notices at the end of May, as well as offering debt advice and support.
A council spokesman said: “Of the 300 summonses issued, 33 have paid already and we will again contact the remainder to encourage dialogue.”