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21 May, 2020 Open access

Debt charities call for urgent action to help those struggling with council tax debt due to COVID-19 pandemic

Proposals include more time to pay and a 'pre-action protocol' for councils to follow before enforcing recovery

Urgent action is needed to help those who are struggling with council tax debt due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Citizens Advice, the Money Advice Trust and StepChange Debt Charity have said.

Estimating that more than 2 million people have already fallen behind on council tax bills as a result of COVID-19, the three charities highlight that existing regulations used by councils to collect debts lead to heavy-handed tactics – such as using bailiffs – that do not recover much money for councils but instead push struggling households further into debt.

Writing to Local Government Minister Simon Clarke, the charities therefore call on the government to protect households who have fallen behind due to coronavirus by - 

Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust Joanna Elson said today - 

'There can be no going back to ‘business as usual’ for council tax collection.  With millions at risk of falling behind with their council tax bills, the government should move quickly to address the weaknesses in the way local authorities collect arrears from people in debt – to ensure that this is fair, proportionate and does not make bad financial situations worse.  At the same time, councils need more funding for both existing council tax support schemes and to support residents in hardship in other ways. This needs to be put in place right away, so that local authorities can play their part in supporting the nation’s financial recovery from the outbreak.'

For more information see Urgent action needed to help millions struggling with Covid-19 council tax debt from