Page last updated at 06:37 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

£124m owed in rate arrears in NI

Rates bill
The figures were released by the Public Accounts Committee

A total of £124m in rates arrears is owed in Northern Ireland, it has emerged - more than double the 2006 figure of £48m.

At one stage in the intervening period, the office in charge of collection had only seven staff retrieving arrears.

The figures and details have been released by Stormont's Public Accounts Committee.

Chairman Paul Maskey said the arrears had a "detrimental affect on frontline government and council services".

"We've made a number of recommendations to the Department of Finance and Personnel as well as the Rate Collection Agency and we want to see them implemented," added the Sinn Féin MLA.

"We're looking also for a clear action plan from both with regards to how they're gong to address this."

Mr Maskey said for rate arrears to have risen from £48m in 2006 to £124m in 2008 was "totally unacceptable".

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