The Vale of Glamorgan Council is pushing back against moves by the Welsh Labour Government which wants to be more lenient with people who persistently refuse to pay their council tax.
New rules are set to be introduced ny the Welsh Labour Government next year which will mean people who refuse to pay council tax will be let off the hook and will no longer be locked up in jail for three months – as they can be now.
The Jeremy-Corbyn-supporting Welsh Labour Government finance secretary Mark Drakeford has already reassured Labour voters that “getting into debt is not a crime” and has declared that the sanction of imprisonment is “an outdated and disproportionate response to a civil debt issue.”
On September 3rd a Welsh Labour Government “consultation” requesting views on the removal of the sanction of imprisonment for the non-payment of council tax came to an end.
Some observers see the consultation as part of a move by the Welsh Labour Government to go easy on Labour’s core voters and soften the limited sanctions that local councils are allowed to take against persistent and determined council-tax defaulters.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet is to discuss next week a motion declaring that it DOES NOT support the removal of the sanction of imprisonment – a sanction currently available to all councils in Wales.
The Vale Council says if the Welsh Labour Government removes the sanction of imprisonment for persistent council-tax defaulters “there would be a potential reduction in the collection of council tax and non-domestic rates should the Welsh Government remove the sanction of imprisonment. “
Currently – under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 all Welsh councils can commence committal proceedings in relation to non-payment of council tax and non-domestic rates. Already however, magistrates can only jail non-payers of there has been “wilful refusal or culpable neglect to pay the amount outstanding”.
The Vale Council says it “actively pursues debtors who have received reminders and court orders requiring them to pay their arrears of council tax, but who, despite being able to pay, have not done so. Action at this level is only taken as last resort with the numbers committed to prison being very low.”
No one has been jailed for non-payment of council tax in the Vale of Glamorgan since January 2017 – but the council wants to keep the option of the threat of imprisonment up its sleeve when such action is called for.