Large Rise in Council Tax Arrears

A major debt charity (Stepchange) has reported that there has been a 77% rise in the number of households needing advice about council tax arrears over the last year. 

It said one reason was the changes to council tax benefit, introduced as part of the Government's welfare reforms in April 2013.  The charity said in 2012 it helped 25,000 people who had fallen behind with their council tax, but in 2013 it said that number rose to over 45,000. 

The charity said that stagnating incomes, changing work patterns, rising living costs and changes in welfare benefits have been a toxic combination.  The charity said it is now also concerned the situation will worsen from 1 April 2014 when fees for Bailiffs go up, which may mean anyone facing enforcement action for non-payment of council tax could see as much as £310 added to their bills.  The charity has asked councils to give local tax payers more breathing space if they cannot pay. 

Council tax is a priority debt and doing nothing about it can in extreme circumstances lead to a custodial sentence.  If you have council tax arrears the sooner you seek some advice to tackle the problem then you may be able to avoid the matter going to court and thereafter incurring further enforcement fees.