Bailiff cases rise sharply

BAILIFFS in Ipswich are being handed a staggering nine new cases a day as town chiefs attempt to crack down on tax dodgers, The Evening Star has learned.

BAILIFFS in Ipswich are being handed a staggering nine new cases a day as town chiefs attempt to crack down on tax dodgers, The Evening Star has learned.

New figures show that in the five months between April and August this year a massive 1,434 cases reached the stage where the bailiffs were called in.

This represents a huge proportional increase of around 20 per cent on the 12 months between April 2006 and March 2007 when 2,800 cases reached this stage.

Deputy leader at Ipswich Borough Council, John Carnall, said the rise in cases is down to the council taking a tough stance on tax dodgers.

The borough has for the past few years had a collection rate below the national average and the aim is to buck the trend.

Hundreds of thousands pounds a year are chased by bailiffs due to unpaid council tax and business rate bills.

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Huge amounts of this have to be written off as “unrecoverable”.

Cllr Carnall said Ipswich Borough Council is keen to improve its record: “We have a strong policy of chasing people not paying their bills because we owe it to the 97 per cent who are paying their bills on time.

“Our council tax collection rates are below the national average and we are making a real strong effort to get ourselves up into the top quartile for collection of council tax and business rates.

“We would warn people that if they don't pay their council tax we will take enforcement action against them.

“That will include going to court and looking for either an attachment of earnings order or a liability order so we can send the in the bailiffs to get back the money owed to the council.”

The council currently uses three separate companies to carry out bailiff work.

It does not pay for the service as money paid to the companies comes from a levy placed on the retrieved goods.

Is the council right to take a tough line with tax dodgers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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