NEARLY 6,000 Flintshire people have been taken to court over council tax in the last 18 months.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Leader revealed Flintshire Council has taken a total of 5,840 people to court because of non-payment issues since April 2012.
However, a breakdown of the figures showed that the number of people being taken to court with regards to council tax since the UK Government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ came into effect in April has fallen slightly when compared to
Head of finance, Kerry Feather said: “By supporting households through early intervention and the proactive work being undertaken across the council, early indications show that council tax collection in Flintshire remains at a level similar to last year and the council has not seen an overall increase in the number of households that fall into arrears with their council tax.”
Statistics released by Flintshire Council show that 3,784 liability orders were awarded by the courts over council tax issues raised by Flintshire Council during the 2012-13 financial year.
So far 2,056 liability orders have been awarded by the courts during the current financial year, however, this figure shows a slight decrease in the number of orders awarded from April-September 2012.
The number has fallen by 0.3 per cent, down from 2,062 the previous year, showing that the Government change in benefit rules dubbed ‘the bedroom tax’ has not had an adverse effect on people’s ability to pay.
The tax, which came into force in April this year, is part of the government’s wider national welfare reforms, applying to people of working age who rent their home from a housing association.
Under the scheme, government housing benefit is cut if they are considered to live in a home that has more bedrooms than they need. Pensioners are not affected by the scheme.
Ms Feather said: “The restrictions to housing benefit, sometimes referred to as ‘the bedroom tax’ or ‘the removal of the spare room subsidy’, was introduced in April 2013 as part of the government’s Welfare Reform Act.
“The changes were designed to deter people receiving housing benefit from occupying houses larger than they need.
“The legislation restricts the eligible rent for housing benefit by 14 per cent for one spare bedroom, and by 25 per cent
“The council set up a welfare reform project team at an early stage and we have been working closely with individual households impacted by these changes to ensure, as far as possible, that households can adjust their finances to cope with the change.”
Flintshire Council could not provide information on how many of the unpaid council tax cases it had taken to court resulted in prosecution.
A council statement read: “The council do not keep specific records on the number of cases that may have been adjourned or withdrawn from court, often at the discretion of the council.”