MORE than 7,500 people were summonsed for non-payment of council tax by Herefordshire Council last year, a freedom of information request has revealed.

Belmont resident Alan Wheatley, who submitted the FOI request, also asked how many liability orders had been granted to the council by the magistrates’ court and how many times had bailiffs been sent to collect payment.

A liability order is the court deciding that a person owes money to the council and gives them the right to take legal action to collect the debt.

The council said a total of 5,895 orders had been granted and a total of 3,176 cases were referred to enforcement agents during 2017/18.

The total cost, which includes corporate support and recovery team services, court fees, postage, travel and stationary expenses amounted to £599,500 for 2017/18 and includes information up to July 30 of the current financial year.

The total costs charged per case to late and non-payers amounts to £85.64.

Mr Wheatley said: “I believe that responsible government and informed democracy require feedback on existing practices, especially concerning the impact of austerity policies on economically and otherwise vulnerable people.

“Further, the decline of Citizens Advice and other information, advice and guidance support for such people makes it more difficult for the public to know of these impacts.

“The benefit sanctions imposed by central government are partly to blame for this, with knock-on effects for everyone as the council finds it more difficult to raise a sufficient level of revenue and has to increase the council tax rate.”