Laura Sharman 24 November 2021

MPs launch inquiry into collection of council tax arrears

MPs launch inquiry into collection of council tax arrears image

An inquiry into how local authorities in England collect council tax arrears has been launched by MPs.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee will examine whether there should be changes to the law on the recovery of council tax arrears. It highlighted that England is the only nation in the UK where local authorities can use their powers to send someone to prison for up to three months for the non-payment of council tax.

It will also explore how local authority council tax support schemes affect council tax collection rates, and if there are examples of best practice for council tax arrears collection.

Clive Betts, chair of the Committee, said: 'Council tax arrears is the most common debt problem which people approach Citizens Advice about. COVID-19 has also inevitably had a major impact on many household incomes with some residents suffering financial hardship, leaving them to fall behind on their council tax payments.

'In our inquiry, we are keen to understand about how councils differ in their approaches to council tax arrears, the support available to those who fall into council tax debt, and whether there needs to be changes to the law on the recovery of council tax arrears. We are also keen to examine how different council tax support schemes affect council tax collection.'

Figures show the total amount of council tax outstanding is £4.4bn, with the pandemic causing council tax debt to increase by £841m last year.

Reform of council tax, including devolved powers for local authorities, are among the plans in a co-operation agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru in Wales.

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