More than �2.9m owed in council tax within Norfolk

More than �2.9m in outstanding council tax is owed within Norfolk from the last financial year alone.

And when figures from councils in north Suffolk and east Cambridge-shire are added, the bill rises to more than �5m.

The figures were revealed as councils across the region plan major cuts to cope with massive reductions in government funding.

The largest amount owed in council tax for the 2009-2010 year was to Norwich City Council, totalling more than �1m.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council was owed a total of �525,818, with North Norfolk District Council and the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk both owed more than �400,000.

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South Norfolk District Council was still trying to recover �309,000 and Broadland District Council failed to bring in �192,000 of charges.

The total figure outstanding from all Norfolk councils last year is �2,933,906, although this represents a small fraction of the expected council tax income.

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The Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk's outstanding figure of more than �450,000 represents just 0.7pc of its calculated income for that year.

The region's total is part of the �530m shown to be owed to councils across the whole of the UK from the 2009-2010 financial year by Freedom of Information requests.

According to the figures, councils across Norfolk also had historic shortfalls from 1993 to 2010 of �10.9m.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: 'Every year, the city council works hard to reduce the amount of uncollected council tax money it is owed and recover as much of it as possible.'

A spokesman for Broadland District Council said that it had recovered a higher percentage of owed council tax than any other in Norfolk for the past five years.

'We encourage people to get in touch with us at an early stage if they are struggling to pay so that we can discuss payment options,' the spokesman said.

'The arrears have been reduced by making voluntary payment arrangements as well as by using enforcement action such as attachment to earnings and bailiffs.

'Action is still continuing to recover the rest of these arrears and they now represent only three tenths of 1pc of the overall amount billed.'

South Norfolk District Council said that arrangements were already in place to repay more than a third of the figure owed.

Breckland Council said it pursued every avenue possible to recover the money.

'We continue to pursue all unpaid bills long after the financial year ends, which is reflected in our 99.5pc final collection rate,' a spokesman said.

'Over 98pc of residents pay their council tax on time and others may have genuine difficulties in paying which we encourage people to discuss with us early on.

'However, for those who deliberately choose not to pay, amongst other methods, we place charging orders on properties, impose salary deductions, force bankruptcy, take court action which can lead to a prison sentence.'

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