Town hall bosses in Barking and Dagenham demand council tax arrears stretching back 13 years

The council have been accused of 'seeing who they can squeeze'.

The council have been accused of 'seeing who they can squeeze'. - Credit: Archant

Town hall bosses have been accused of ‘seeing who they can squeeze’ by sending out demands for council tax arrears stretching back as much as 13 years.

Angry residents claim in some cases they are being threatened with a visit from a bailiff unless they settle their debts in a little over a week.

The Post has seen bills the council has recently sent out including one for arrears accrued in 2004 by Christopher Jones.

The law states liability orders must be issued within six years of the date on which they are due.

The demands sent out by the council claim liability orders were issued at the time - but some residents who have not been contacted for years dispute whether the town hall ever told them money was owed.

Christopher, who owes £700, said he is “disgusted”.

Some residents suspect the council, because of a lack of funding, is trying to recoup money by finding payments it failed to collect years ago.

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Paul Lambert, who has been billed after failing to pay four years ago, said they are “seeing who they can squeeze for an extra quid or two.”

“My main concern is about the people that are already struggling,” he said.

A resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, who owes money from 2009 and 2010, said: “It is going to be difficult to find the money in time.”

A council spokesman said the town hall was “within its right to chase and collect money owed providing the bill was issued within the six-year period and a liability order obtained in court may take enforcement action”.

He added: “All cases we send to enforcement agents have been billed within this time period and a liability order obtained in court.

“Barking and Dagenham adhered strictly to the legislation which governs the billing and collection of council tax and all customers will have received multiple notifications of any debts that have not been paid.

“The council has an obligation to continue recovering unpaid council tax and ensures in all cases residents are fully aware of their unpaid debts referring cases to enforcement agents.”