KIRKLEES Council has more cash in its coffers after boosting its council tax collection rates.

And it says it is getting tougher on people who try to dodge paying.

New figures show council tax collection rates have risen in Kirklees by more than 2% on last year.

The Kirklees Revenues and Benefits Service, which deals with the administration and collection of council tax and business rate accounts, says it has almost £10m more in the pot from domestic and business tax rates.

The council says after taking into account the rises in charge levels, the real increase is £3m, which is still significant.

So far the service has collected over 2% more council tax and 3% more business rates than at this point last year.

Clr Gordon Beever, council Cabinet member for finance and legal services, said the increase was due to getting and keeping work up-to-date, taking timely and appropriate recovery action against non-payers, and offering new and easier ways to make payments such as telephone and internet payments, and paperless direct debit.

The service is processing more than 90% of council tax account changes within five working days. The longest outstanding items are less than three weeks old. Amendments to business rate accounts have been processed within a week since July 2003.

Clr Beever said the section had also pursued a rigorous programme of recovery against non-payers since April 2003. He said 14,500 summonses and 8,700 liability orders had been issued for non-payment of council tax, and 2,000 summonses and 1,100 liability orders issued for business rates.

"We are not prepared to tolerate a situation where people who pay their dues are subsidising those who do not," he said. "Rigorous and prompt recovery action against non-payers ensures the council collects as much money as possible for essential council services, and is fair to the vast majority who regularly pay on time.

"The Revenues and Benefits Service is committed to ensuring that changes in council tax and business rate liability are processed as quickly as possible, so that correct bills can be issued and customers know how much council tax or business rates they need to pay."

But the council's Labour group deputy leader Clr Ken Smith said despite the 2% increase, millions of pounds were still being lost.

"Each pound that is not collected means less money for essential services, and higher council tax for those who do pay," he said. "There is a massive £10m council tax blackhole. This is because last year over £8m of council taxes were not collected and the Revenue and Benefits Service has not recovered this enormous outstanding amount."

Clr Smith said every household paid an extra £55 on its council tax to pay for the failure.

"Those who pay their bills are subsidising those who don't."

* To pay over the phone or set up a direct debit without filling in a form, ring 01484 414818. People can also pay through the internet on

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