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‘Reform needed’ as council tax arrears mount

Money Advice Trust responds to new figures from MHCLG that show Council Tax arrears are at £4.4bn

Posted June 23, 2021

The Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, responded to new figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that show that council tax arrears in England have risen to £4.4bn as of March 2021.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:

“Today’s figures highlight the significant impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s ability to pay their council tax bills, with £1.5bn of arrears accrued in England last year alone.

"However, council tax arrears are not just a Covid problem. Arrears were rising at a worrying rate even before Covid-19 hit, and the total amount of arrears, which now stands at £4.4bn, is unsustainable both for local authorities and for individual households.

"The Government now need to move to reform council tax collection rules to end the practice of people becoming liable for their entire annual bill after one missed payment, and to ensure people are given the time they need to repay.

"More also needs to be done to prevent people falling behind in the first place. Emergency Covid funding provided to local authorities to reduce council tax bills for those on low incomes has been a vital support for many and, without it, the overall arrears figure would likely have been much higher. The Government should now look to make increased funding for local council tax support permanent, to help ensure no low income household is tipped into financial difficulty by an unaffordable council tax bill.”

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