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Enforcement industry backs proposed sanctions for council tax dodgers

With Welsh Ministers revealing that 11 of the 14 Welsh local authorities agree in principle with removing the option of jailing people for non-payment of council tax, the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) has proposed that community service is a better option than a prison sentence.

The Welsh Government proposal is being led by Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford, who is looking at other measures that would apply to people who willingly refuse to pay their council tax.

CIVEA, which represents the majority of firms employing enforcement agents (sometimes known as bailiffs) who collect unpaid debts on behalf of the Welsh councils, supports Mr Drakeford’s call for a fair and proportionate response, and says sentencing someone to community service ensures the punishment matches the crime.

The value of arrest warrants for unpaid council tax is estimated at almost £600,000, says CIVEA, adding that while, it may not be possible to recover this debt, it is possible for councils to benefit to a similar value through community service sentences.

Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of CIVEA, said: “A non-custodial sentence is a win-win for councils. A community service sentence would act as a deterrent for anyone refusing to pay their council tax, but more importantly would make a contribution to the local community at a time when budgets are tight.

“We hope the Government uses its powers wisely to support local authorities struggling to collect outstanding debt. This would only apply to a hard core of residents who willingly refuse to pay their tax. Anyone identified as vulnerable and with no means to meet their debts would require the appropriate welfare support.”

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