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Caithness News Bulletins June 2004

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The Highland Council has recorded a 93.5% rate of collection of the Council Tax in the current financial year - the best on record and a 0.9% improvement over 2002/2003.

The continuous improvement in collection is linked to the increased take-up of Direct Debit. 52.5% of customers now pay this way - an increase over the previous year of 3.2%. 

In an effort to maintain the momentum, Finance Service staff are to promote payment by Direct Debit in dealing with customers and through presentations to community groups and advertising.

For future years, the Service is also to introduce the option of paying twice yearly ie on 1 April and 1 September;  and permitting fortnightly payments.

It is also to carry out further research on a proposal to boost numbers by establishing an Annual Prize Draw for all new and existing Direct Debit customers as long as they continue to pay by this method throughout the year.  Midlothian Council is the only other council in Scotland known to offer this incentive.

Councillor John Matheson, Chairman of the Council’s Resources Committee, welcomed the continuing trend of improved Council Tax payment and recognised the impact of increased take up of Direct Debit.

He said: “There is no doubt that Direct Debit is the most convenient and cost effective way for the public to pay their Council Tax and we are very grateful to the growing numbers choosing to pay this way.

“We aim to continue the progress and will be working hard over the coming months to increase the uptake of Direct Debit.  Midlothian have an impressive rate of take up – at 58% - so we will be investigating the feasibility of introducing something similar to the annual prize draw they run, offering a first prize of a £2,000 holiday voucher.”