Households owe £21m in council tax

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Cash-strapped households around the district owe a total of £21m in unpaid council tax.

That is equivalent to £140 for every household - or £63 for each of the Wakefield district’s population of 332,000 people - according to latest figures.

Unpaid council tax rose from £20.7m last year and is up from £14.5m in 2009 - raising fears that rising numbers of families are trapped in a cycle of poverty.

And a debt charity has warned that the outstanding amount could rise further after an extra two per cent was added to council tax bills to help pay for social care.

National Debtline said was receiving around 220 calls from people in Wakefield seeking council tax help every year.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, which runs the helpline, said: “Council Tax is vital in funding the essential local services that we all rely on, and local authorities are already under significant financial pressure so it is in everyone’s interests that arrears are repaid.

“We would urge all councils to do everything they can to ensure that residents in difficulty are signposted to free advice that will help them get back on track.

“Anyone in and around Wakefield who is finding it hard to make their Council Tax payments should contact National Debtline or a local agency such as Citizens Advice as early as possible.

“The earlier you seek free advice, the quicker and easier the problem will be to solve.”

The two per cent “social care precept” was added to council tax in March, on top of a 1.99 per cent annual increase.

National Debtline said council tax was now the fastest growing debt problem it helps people with.

The charity offers confidential advice via its website www.nationaldebtline.org or through its helpline on 0808 808 4000.