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Citizens Advice have said that the number of people who have contacted them for help with council tax arrears has dramatically increased by 17% to 27,000 between January and March 2014 compared to the same time period in 2013. They have said that this makes council tax arrears the most common type of debt problem and that council tax can be the payment which pushes people into debt.
The increase in council tax related debt follows changes made to council tax benefits in April 2013. The changes meant that the council tax benefit was replaced with council tax support which is run by local authorities. The budget for council tax support was cut by 10%, or £414 million, and local councils have to help those who need it using this reduced pot.
The most important thing for local councils to do at this stage is to ensure that they are using the council tax support money to help those who are most in need. Citizens Advice say that 42% of those who are struggling with council tax arrears are employed, 28% are unemployed and 30% are out of work due to poor health, caring for a relative or are retired.
With one in five people who spoke to Citizens Advice regarding debt problems are struggling with council tax arrears which shows how much of a growing problem this is.
By Sasha Davison
26th May 2014
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