Eric Pickles urges debt collection rather than council tax hike
The reaction follows a report in online publication Local Government Executive detailing a statement issued by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles that has urged councils to clamp down on uncollected revenue.
His statement comes after over 100 local authorities announced they would opt to freeze their council tax charges throughout the next financial year, with a further eight voting in favour of reducing theirs, following the government’s offer of a grant for doing so.
The grants mean that councils receive the equivalent of a one per cent rise in council tax in a one off payment.The Office for National Statistics has released figures that show this number has dropped in comparison to recent years, with 251 out of 421 local authorities taking the grant for 2014-15 and 360 in 2012-13 – an astounding 85 per cent.
Pickles believes that instead of increasing the overall payment, councils should put their extra resources into reclaiming unpaid bills from residents that haven’t met their payments. This may signal something of a collection drive as councils look to balance their books following their decision to freeze rates.
Chris Richards, Managing Director at Council Tax Advisors CIC, has released a statement following the announcement from Pickles: “While on the face of it the council tax freeze may sound like a positive thing for residents – especially those in lower tax bands – this move towards an increased collection drive will ultimately put pressure on those who continue to struggle with their payments.
“This is why that it is imperative that people ensure they have the right support and guidance surrounding these issues as new local government changes are put into place. Here at Council Tax Advisors CIC, we keep abreast of local government issues and as a result are perfectly placed to provide this kind of help for people that need it.”
Council Tax Advisors Community Interest Company (CIC) is a not-for-profit organisation offering free and independent advice and resolution services to those in council tax arrears or any other kind of debt. Formed in 2012 as a direct result of personal experiences with bailiffs, they specialise in providing advice and guidance on how best to deal with debt situations and offer long-term sustainable solutions including the organisation of repayment plans and professional mediation services.