Authorities write off £580,000 in unpaid tax

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MORE than half a million pounds in unpaid Council Tax has been written off by five district councils in Suffolk.

If collected, the money – £580,000 – could have funded school lollipop crossings for the whole of Suffolk for the next three years.

The Taxpayer’s Alliance has criticised the level of uncollected tax – although it also said it would help if Council Tax bills were not so high to begin with.

The figures relate to the amount of Council Tax written off by the authorities during 2009/10.

Although written off during that year, most of the total was accumulated from previous years.

The highest amount written off came from Breckland Council which scrubbed off £290,700.

A spokeswoman said some of these debts went back as far as 1993 and just £12,900 related to 2009/10.

Babergh wrote off £98,000 but again said all but £22,600 was historic debt. Forest Heath was next with £70,000, St Edmundsbury with £65,000, while Mid Suffolk chalked off £57,000.

The figures come after Suffolk County Council voted to ditch an array of services including school crossing patrols which will end in July in a move calculated to save £174,000 a year.

A spokeswoman for the Tax Payers’ Alliance said: “We do think Council Tax is too high to begin with. But we do still want people to pay their fair share.

“What we don’t want to see is councils hounding impoverished pensioners who cannot afford to pay. But we do want councils to pursue to the full force of the law, those who are acting criminally and simply refusing to pay.”

The councils defended the level of write offs however, saying that the decision normally was only made when people had died penniless, had been declared bankrupt or could not be traced after moving home.

“We pursue every penny,” said a St Edmundsbury spokeswoman.