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OIC take steps to recoup unpaid council tax

Orkney Islands Council is urging anyone who owes council tax for the year 2020/21 to get in touch, so affordable payment arrangements can be put in place.

OIC is budgeted to raise £9.7 million in the coming year from council tax, which is used alongside the general revenue grant from the Scottish Government to pay for services throughout Orkney. At the end of this financial year on March 31, it is anticipated that council tax arrears will have reached £595,000.

The council will soon be issuing final notices for the remaining unpaid 2020-2021 council tax – however OIC’s head of finance, Gareth Waterson, has stressed that there is still time for people to make arrangements that they can afford.

He explained that anyone in arrears who receives a final notice will have 14 days to contact the council tax team to make arrangements to settle their debt — anyone who fails to do this faces enforcement action to enable the Council to recoup the debt.

Mr Waterson said: “We are in the very difficult position of having to recover what is a very substantial amount of lost income through people’s failure, or inability to pay their Council Tax, which, ultimately, affects services for everyone. We do recognise this has been a particularly challenging year for some and so we are appealing for people to contact us now so we can try and assist in making suitable arrangements for payment.

“If people do not contact us within that 14-day period then the Council may have to consider taking enforcement action, which could involve initiating Sheriff Court action.”

If you have outstanding arrears for 2020-21 please contact the council tax team on 01856 886322 or e-mail revenues@orkney.gov.uk as soon as possible to discuss an affordable payment arrangement. No further action will be taken if an arrangement is in place and being adhered to.

Anyone having difficulty paying and in need of money advice, should contact the Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau to speak to a money adviser http://www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/cab/ . Please advise the Council Tax team if money advice is being sought as they may be able to allow a longer period of time to make an arrangement.

People are also encouraged to check whether they are entitled to a council tax reduction. To find out more or apply online check here: https://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/C/Council-Tax-Benefit.htm