Council tax debt is a worry for families

Central Beds Council
Central Beds Council
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Central Beds has the highest number of families struggling with council tax debt in the East of England, according to a new report.

Wolf at the Door: How Council Tax Debt Collection is Harming Children is a report compiled by The Children’s Society. It reveals that Central Beds also has the highest number of children living in households with council tax debt in the region.

Luton Borough Council came second on the list for both categories.

According to the report, Government cuts to council tax support have coincided with a 25 per cent increase in households falling behind with council tax, and a 33 per cent increase in court summonses.

The Children’s Society is calling for an end to the use of bailiffs by councils in the cases of households with children.

Sherry Peck, East of England Area Director for The Children’s Society, said: “Our report reveals that far too many families are failed by their council when they fall behind with their council tax.

“Bailiffs should simply not be sent round to families with children. Instead, councils should give struggling residents a chance to negotiate affordable repayments and make sure every family in trouble is offered independent debt advice.”

Central Beds has hit back at the figures used in the report.

Chief finance officer Charles Warboys said: “CBC does not recognise the figures on the report and they are certainly not based on any government return we’ve made.

“The report is not representative of CBC’s council tax activity although as one of the largest billing authorities in the east of England it would be hardly surprising if we have the largest number of council tax debtors. In 2014 to 2015 the number of council tax debts referred to the bailiffs was reduced by 18 per cent.

“We are extremely fair when negotiating payment arrangements with debtors and will make every attempt to agree phased payments to clear debt rather than instructing an Enforcement Agent.”