Council tax debt ‘an issue for many’

Citizens Advice has highlighted the growing number of UK households that are falling behind on their council tax payments.

According to the organis…

Citizens Advice has highlighted the growing number of UK households that are falling behind on their council tax payments.

According to the organisation's statistics for the three first three months of 2014, a total of 27,000 people sought advice from the body regarding this issue – a 17 per cent increase from the same period in 2013.

As part of efforts to reduce the nation's deficit, the government introduced a number of welfare changes earlier this year, including a replacement of the previous council tax benefit for the new council tax support scheme.

Local authorities have now been charged with overseeing this latest measure after responsibility for its management was transferred from Whitehall, while at the same time ministers have cut the budget for council tax support by ten per cent to £414 million.

These changes have meant that, instead of a nationwide policy on council tax support for those facing burdensome debts or difficulties with their finances, the delivery of financial aid for households with debt issues now varies from council to council.

As a result, one in five people who have contacted the charity in 2014 for advice on managing their borrowings also stated they were in arrears regarding payments on their council tax.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Consumer debts like credit cards and personal loans have traditionally been the most common debt problems that come through our doors, but since the end of council tax benefit we've seen council tax arrears problems go through the roof.

"Local authorities are increasingly stretched, but they must ensure that the resources available for their local council tax support scheme are focused on those who are most in need."

He added that for many households, council tax arrears can prove the tipping point that sends them deeper and deeper into debt. It is therefore essential that proper financial support and guidance is sought by those individuals who may be struggling to make ends meet.

Posted by Joe White

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