Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 14:10 UK

50,000 in dock over rates payment

Pile of one pound coins

Almost 50,000 people (46,611) have been taken to court in the last financial year in Northern Ireland for not paying their rates bill.

Land and Property Services (LPS) said the worsening economic situation had led to more people defaulting on their payments.

But it added most of NI's 600,000 ratepayers had paid their latest bill in full or agreed a payment plan.

Rates debt in Northern Ireland now stands at a record £138m.

"There is evidence that there are a number of ratepayers finding it difficult to pay their rates bill during these difficult economic times," said LPS chief executive John Wilkinson.

"I would encourage anyone in this situation, whether they are an individual householder or a business, to contact LPS to discuss payment options.

"We want to work with ratepayers to ensure they are able to fulfil their legal obligation to pay rates. We can discuss payment plans and advise on any benefits they may be entitled to receive."

The government has written off £6m of rates which can't be recovered, largely due to businesses entering liquidation.

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