A new demand for abolition of imprisonment for not paying council tax highlights problems facing households in debt.
It supports a growing campaign for reform of methods many see as harsh and counter-productive.
The demand comes in a powerful paper by Chris Daw QC for the Social Market Foundation*. In setting the background he points to:
He understands the importance of efficient revenue collection when council budgets have been cut by central government and accepts that most councils have stopped threatening prison.
Citizens Advice is leading the reform campaign.
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice national Chief Executive said: “The government needs to fundamentally reform the regulations governing how local authorities collect debts to give councils more flexibility to help people get their finances back on track”. **
At local level, CARBS data show council tax and rental payments causing the highest number of debt problems in 2018-19 (chart above). Council tax and magistrates court enforcement together account for more than a fifth of the year’s total.
* Ending imprisonment for Council Tax arrears in England, Social Market Foundation, September 2019 ** Aggressive collection of council tax debts in 2016/17, Citizens Advice, April 2019.