West Lothian Council chases up tax arrears

COUNCIL staff are cracking down on late council tax payments but those who pay up don’t need to worry.

A Linlithgow resident who wanted to remain anonymous contacted the Journal and Gazette after they believed there was a policy change in the way council tax was being collected.

Previously council staff accepted payments at any time over the month but, more recently, reminder letters have been sent out if it is not paid within the first 10 days of the month.

However council staff insist this is not a change in policy but they are tightening up rules that have always been in place.

A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “Council Tax is vitally important and allows us to deliver a wide range of services to communities across West Lothian, including schools, social care, roads maintenance, libraries, community facilities and waste services.

“For customers who don’t pay by direct debit, Council Tax is due on the first of every month from April to January inclusive.

‘’This is made clear on individual council tax bills and was also included on a special council tax feature in the council’s newspaper, Bulletin, distributed to every household in late February/early March 2012.

‘‘As part of a drive to increase Council Tax collections rates, reminder letters were produced on May 10 to ask residents who were in arrears to bring their account up to date or to contact us as soon as possible.

“Previously, residents were given extra time to pay their bills but early intervention is generally accepted as the most effective way to prevent debts mounting up and this approach brings us into line with other local authorities.

‘‘Anyone having problems paying their council tax on time should contact us on 01506 776982.”

He added that hundreds of residents had signed up to pay their Council Tax by direct debit to ensure they didn’t fall behind on payments.