The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, the statutory framework governing council tax collection, has not been updated since it was introduced. Among other things, it states that the remaining year’s unpaid balance shall become payable, in certain circumstances, when an individual misses a monthly instalment.
The House of Commons Committee says that the speed at which this provision can be applied can cause an individual’s debts to quickly escalate and it is not clear how much discretion local authorities have to agree manageable repayment plans. Best practice guidance from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities strongly implies they do not have to demand immediate payment in full, but this message might not be getting through.
The Committee has made a number of recommendations to Government, including:
1. “the Government should amend existing regulations to enshrine in law the principle that collection should be based on a resident’s ability to pay”
2. “the Government should amend existing regulations by the end of this Parliament to replace the sanction of imprisonment”
3. “the Government replace the council tax collection best practice guidance with a statutory code of practice”
4. “an application for universal credit [should] automatically trigger an application for local council tax support”
Thanks to Steve Coppard of Arum for above the summary which he posted on LinkedIn.