Those struggling to pay business rates or council tax in South Craven are being urged to seek help before debts get out of control.

From next month, Craven District Council can go to court to apply for liability orders which would mean bailiffs chasing up unpaid bills.

The passing on of the debt would result in extra costs running into possibly hundreds of pounds.

But before that happens, the council, which has a legal duty to collect council tax and business rates, is urging anyone struggling to pay to get in touch.

“We urge any residents or businesses struggling to contact us as soon as possible,” said council leader, Councillor Chris Knowles-Fitton. “The council is here to collect tax, but also to help find solutions.”

From April, the council can apply for a liability order from magistrates if a taxpayer has not made or kept to an agreed repayment plan, or has failed to complete or return financial information on a form sent out by the council.

Once a debt has been passed on to a bailiff, there will be an additional fixed fee of £75, which could then rise depending on whether personal visits are carried out.