NEWLY-released official figures have revealed that residents in Redditch owe a total of £4.1million in unpaid Council Tax, leading a national debt charity to warn that many are not receiving the free advice they need to deal with their debts.
The figures, included in newly-published data published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, show Redditch residents owed £4.1million in accumulated unpaid council tax bills at March 31, 2016, an increase from £3.5million for the previous year.
The warning comes as residents are paying more council tax than in previous years. In April, bills for residents in Redditch rose by 3.38 per cent – with the average for a Band D household hitting £1,612.45 for 2016/17, compared to £1,559.72 for 2015/16.
National Debtline receives around 170 calls each year from residents in Redditch seeking advice on how to resolve their debt problems, and expects this to increase.
The charity, which also offers free online advice at www.nationaldebtline.org, says that council tax is now the fastest growing type of problem debt it is helping clients to resolve – with 25 percent of all callers now in arrears.
Amanda Singleton from Redditch borough council said: “We fully support the message that anyone struggling to pay their Council Tax should seek help as soon as possible, either from us or from voluntary money advice organisations we work closely with.
“The high level of support and advice we provide does of course complement a robust stance on non-payment of council tax. We always try to work with customers to put sustainable repayment plans in place, for example the ‘£4.1 million’ quoted includes all the debts for which we already have sustainable arrangements in place.”
National Debtline offers free, independent and confidential advice 24 hours a day online at www.nationaldebtline.org and on 0808 808 4000, Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9.30am to 1pm.