Mark Whitehead 26 April 2019

Amount of unpaid council tax rises to £3bn

The total amount of unpaid council tax has risen to more than £3bn, according to the latest figures.

Research by Citizens Advice says around 2.2 million households – 10% of the total – are behind with payments.

Council tax arrears grew by a third in the eight years up to 2018, the charity warns, up by 6% in the last year alone.

However, it is calling for a series of measures to prevent bailiffs using aggressive methods to collect the debts including setting up an independent watchdog.

The call follows the Government's announcement that it will review the way local authorities collect council tax.

Citizens Advice wants a change in the law to stop people being asked to pay their entire annual bill if they miss a monthly payment and says councils should be required to develop affordable repayment plans.

It says the threat of imprisonment for council tax arrears in England should be removed.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: 'By forcing local authorities to use rigid and outdated collection processes, council tax regulations make it harder for people to pay their original debts instead of helping them to get their finances back on track.

'Through its council tax collection review, the Government must fundamentally reform the regulations governing how local authorities collect debts.

'Punitive processes such as charging a full year’s bill after a single monthly payment is missed show how broken the system is – they both tie the hands of councils and force people into debt.'

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