Major debt charity, StepChange, has reported a “huge” increase in the number of people seeking help for council tax arrears.
The charity has said that a 77% increase in the number of household needing advice has occurred over the last year.
One reason for the increase was due to the changes in council tax benefit which was introduced as part of the government’s welfare reforms in April 2013, reports the BBC.
On average clients in council tax arrears were £102 short of the money they needed.
“Stagnating incomes, changing work patterns, rising living costs and changes in welfare benefits are a toxic combination,” said StepChange’s chief executive, Mike O’Connor.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated that the average eligible household had to find an extra £160 a year due to the government’s changes in their report in January. They also found that four out of five English local authorities had reduced council tax support given to local residents.
“Localised council tax support has also given councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise, get people into work and end the ‘something for nothing’ culture,” said Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis.
The charity wants councils to give local taxpayers a wider breathing space if they are unable to pay.
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