25 Feb 2020 | Posted In Money advice news

Citizens Advice has published new research into council tax collection. The ‘Wrong Side of the Tax’ report reveals that many people in council tax arrears are struggling with multiple debts and don’t have the money to cover essential living costs. Current council tax collection methods make the situation worse, forcing councils to aggressively collect money people just don’t have.

Findings include:

  • People that Citizens Advice helps with council tax debt have, on average, just £7 per month left after living costs.

  • Of those they help with council tax arrears, 9 in 10 owe money on other bills.

  • The way council tax is collected means debts can quickly escalate. Two weeks after missing a payment, people become liable for their entire annual bill.

  • Missing an average council tax payment of £167 in the first month of the financial year, can escalate to a debt of over £2,000 in just nine weeks.

  • The system is also failing local councils. A 2019 Freedom of Information request revealed that, for every £1 of debt referred to bailiffs by councils, only 27p is returned to them.

Citizens Advice is asking the Government to widen their current review of Council Tax collection methods, to look beyond guidance and tackle the flaws in the underlying Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations. This will make the system work better for people in debt, and for councils.

Read more here.