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Sharp rise in council tax arrears cases with more renters struggling to meet payments

Published 12th Jun 2012

The number of people falling behind with their council tax payments rose sharply last year as the financial pressure on households increased.

Despite council tax freezes across England, nearly 17,000 people contacted debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) for help with their arrears, up from 13,353 in 2010, a 27 per cent increase.

The average amount owed also increased by £42, from £675 in 2010 to £717 last year.

Hardest hit have been those in rented accommodation. There has been huge demand in the rental market as many people can't currently afford the step up onto the property ladder.

This has led to significant rises in rent levels as landlords take advantage.

In contrast, many homeowners have seen mortgage repayments remain at manageable levels due to the record-low base rate - although lenders have issued a swathe of recent hikes.


Failing to pay council tax can lead to legal action to recover the money. A court can then order the money to be deducted directly from salary payments or benefits.

In worst case scenarios bailiffs are called, and the debtor declared bankrupt.

But most councils will arrange for people to take on lower monthly payments over a longer period of time in order to help them.

Consequently, for the first time more renters than homeowners contacted the charity about arrears - a total of 8,841 sought advice, up from 6,084.

CCCS director of external affairs Delroy Corinaldi said: 'The financial squeeze is causing more and more households to fall behind with their council tax bills, and this is a problem we expect to get worse over the coming year.

'Council tax is a priority debt and non-payment of it can have very serious consequences. Anyone who is struggling to keep up with their council tax bills should contact their council to discuss the problem, and check that they are receiving any discounts or rebates to which they may be entitled.

'If you are struggling to cope you should also seek free advice from a debt charity like CCCS as early as possible.'

Source: ' ThisIsMoney '

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