Council tax is the most common cause of problem debt for CARBS clients (1). This is true at national level too.
In recent years, household debt owed to government and essential service suppliers has grown while private sector debt including bank and credit card has fallen.
New Citizens Advice research shows collection methods need reform (2).
Some 2.2 million households in England are behind with council tax payment. Councils have to follow collection methods required by national regulations.
If someone misses just one payment they soon get a bill for the whole year outstanding.
And if the bill isn’t paid on time the standard collection process can mean early legal action. A visit from an enforcement company (bailiff) could follow and even risk of imprisonment.
Data provided by councils about debt recovery levels show that these methods are neither cost efficient nor effective. The original debt can escalate alarmingly – see chart (3).
Citizens Advice thinks four policy changes are necessary:
(1) Council tax collection is creating problem debt Citizens Advice Reigate & Banstead, 29/04/19 (2) Council tax debt collection isn’t efficient or effective (research summary) Citizens Advice, November 2019 (3) The Costs of Collection, The high price of council tax debt collection (full report), Citizens Advice, November 2019