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Sharp rise in council tax arrears despite freeze

We are warning that the number of people falling behind with their council tax has risen sharply despite council tax freezes across England.

We have seen an annual 27 percent increase in the number of people contacting us for help with council tax arrears, from 13,353 in 2010 to 16,958 in 2011. The average amount owed in council tax arrears has also increased, from £675 in 2010 to £717 in 2011.

Much of this has been fuelled by the worsening financial position of renters, with more renters contacting the charity with council tax arrears than homeowners for the first time. A total of 8,841 renters sought advice on council tax debts in 2011, up from 6,084 in 2010.

The financial squeeze is causing more and more households to fall behind with their council tax bills, and this is a problem we expect to get worse over the coming year. We are warning that council tax is a priority debt and non-payment of it can have very serious consequences.

Anyone who is struggling to keep up with their council tax bills should contact their council to discuss the problem, and check that they are receiving any discounts or rebates to which they may be entitled. Those that are struggling to cope should seek free debt advice from a charity as early as possible.

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Contact the the StepChange news team on:

Tel: 0207 391 4583

Mobile: 07507 880 478

Email: press@stepchange.org

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Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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