Keir Starmer calls for government to freeze council tax increases
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Council tax is a regular levy collected to help councils cover the costs of the services they provide. People will usually have to foot this bill if they are 18 or over and own or rent their home. Council tax can vary dependent on where a person lives, but as a regular cost, it may prove a financial burden.
And concerns have been expressed about this responsibility for many families who are already struggling.
New research from the Money Advice Trust has shown over seven million people in Britain are worried they will not be able to afford their council tax bills over the next year.
Findings from the charity’s Council Tax After Covid report illustrated the severity of the situation for millions of families.
These findings come as the latest Government figures show council tax arrears in England have soared to record levels.
Now, some £4.4billion is owed in council tax, rising as a result of the pandemic.
However, with Government support measures such as furlough due to come to an end soon, some have expressed worry about how families will cope financially.
Council tax may end up being the first stumbling block for struggling individuals who cannot afford to keep up with payments.
Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, which runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, commented on the matter.
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She said: “With seven million worried about affording their council tax bills in the next year and council tax arrears reaching crisis point, urgent action is required to help people struggling to pay.
“The current system of council tax collection and support isn’t working for anyone.
“Without the permanent funding needed to provide 100 percent council tax support for those who need it, local authorities are taking the costly route of attempting to collect partial amounts from people who simply cannot afford to pay.
“This not only leaves councils with limited to no returns on the tax they need to fund vital local services, but risks a swift escalation of debt problems for households that are already struggling.”
Ms Elson highlighted the Government support available to people when COVID-19 first started.
This, she said, included temporarily funding councils to offer 100 percent Council Tax Support.
However, with millions of households now facing a “crisis” when it comes to finances, she has called for permanent support to be implemented.
Increased funding for council tax support in the long-term, Ms Elson added, could be a solution.
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She concluded: “We hope the Government will build on its good work during the pandemic and bring forward the lasting reform needed to the council tax system in England.”
Those who are concerned about whether or not they can afford a council tax bill are encouraged to seek help.
Citizens Advice has said Britons should first reach out their their council straight away, to explain their situation and potentially ask for smaller instalments.
Others may benefit from free and confidential debt advice from a charity run service such as CA or the National Debtline which will be able to offer assistance on next steps.
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