MORE than 800 residents have been given enforcement orders for non-payment of council tax following a huge prosecution case at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court, the Chronicle can reveal.

Barnsley Council were granted all 802 liability orders last week, with identified residents being given an extra £80 on their bills.

Aside from the council tax, a separate case saw 61 liability orders made - also for £80 - relating to the non-payment of business rates at the hearing.

If tax isn’t paid on time, the local authority send a reminder and residents in arrears have to pay within 14 days before a court summons is sent - but warnings have been issued over the consequences of continually failing to pay.

Liability orders give authorities the power to recover the outstanding balance on accounts such as taking money from earnings or benefits, asking bailiffs to collect, placing a charging order on a property if owned, seeking bankruptcy or starting proceedings to send someone to prison in worst-case scenarios.

However, this can only be pursued if debts rise above £750.

A council statement said: “If people pay as requested they can continue their payments as usual - the date when the next payment is due will also be shown on the reminder.

“If this is not done on time, a court summons and £28 costs will be added to the account.

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“The payment arrangement will include the £28 summons costs and £52 liability order costs and as long as people keep up with the payment arrangement, we’ll not take any further recovery action.

“If we pass a case to our enforcement agency, a £75 bailiff fee will be added to the account immediately.

“People should contact the enforcement agency straight away to discuss payment arrangements to avoid further fees being added.

“If not, an enforcement agent will visit and an additional £235 enforcement fee will be added to the account, in addition to the £75 fees already incurred.”

The percentage of people in Barnsley paying their council tax on time has decreased annually, with the cost-of-living crisis named as an attributing factor.

Finance bosses have sent out more than 40,000 council tax summons to court over the latest three-year period, it was revealed.

A total of 96.3 per cent of locals paid their council tax between April and June last year - short of the 96.5 per cent target - and more than £3.4m worth of council tax arrears has been passed onto enforcement agencies.

“If we’ve exhausted all our methods of recovery, we can ask the court to issue a summons to attend a committal hearing.

“Magistrates will then decide whether the person’s deliberately refused to pay - this is known as ‘wilful refusal’ or ‘culpable neglect’.

“If they decide the person’s been financially able to pay council tax, but failed to do so, you may be found in ‘culpable neglect’.

“Additional council tax support has been provided to those on low incomes, but there remains a risk to collections as the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect household budgets and their ability to pay council tax.”

In the three months to December 2023, £35.5m was collected in council tax - up 5.5 per cent from £33.7m in the third quarter of 2022 - with residents’ fees set to rise by 4.99 per cent at the beginning of the new financial year.

Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton told the Chronicle: “We have a range of recovery options to collect council tax arrears, including using enforcement agents where appropriate.

“Cases are issued throughout the year and it is an ongoing, repeated process.

“The volume of cases this financial year is consistent with those seen in previous years.

“We will always continue to pursue outstanding arrears to ensure the ongoing effective administration of public funds.”