ALMOST £2.5 million is missing from council coffers after businesses and families failed to pay their taxes.

Allerdale and Copeland council have both applied to magistrates court for liability orders to collect the debt from residents and businesses.

The court granted permission to Allerdale to initiate debt recovery from 995 households and 41 businesses. Copeland was given the go-ahead to pursue 873 unpaid council tax bills and 49 unpaid business rates bills.

People who fail to pay their council tax could see their wages slashed as the authority could take money directly from wages. Other options include taking control of goods, deduction from benefits and bankruptcy.

June is when councils see the highest number of unpaid tax cases, as bills are issues in April.

A spokesman for Allerdale Council said: “The hearings were normal routine applications to the court for liability orders for unpaid council tax and business rates, a process which happens several times each year.The hearing is likely to be the biggest of the financial year, and as the year progresses the numbers each time will fall.

“Having a liability order from the court is a necessary part of the legal process required, and gives the council the power we need so we can then go on to, for example, attach earnings or benefits, or use enforcement agents (previously known as bailiffs), among other things.

“Allerdale Council makes every effort to accommodate people in making their payments. If they are struggling we ask that they contact us for help and guidance.”

A spokesman for Copeland council said: “When reminders and summons for non-payment are issued we encourage customers to engage with us at all stages of the recovery process to avoid court proceedings. Throughout this process, we offer customers the chance to bring their account up to date, or make arrangements to do so.”