£1million council tax debt may be tip of iceberg - The Malvern Observer

£1million council tax debt may be tip of iceberg

Malvern Editorial 27th Jul, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016   0

MALVERN Hills residents owe more than £1million in unpaid council tax, figures have revealed.

Statistics released by National Debtline show those living in the district have failed to pay £1,086,000 in bills as of March 31 this year – an average of £32 per house.

The figure is a £27,000 increase on the previous 12 months. There were also 69 callers to the charity, which said council tax was now the fastest growing type of debt, last year.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “We are seeing more and more people seek help with council tax arrears, but the fact that Malvern Hills residents owe £1.1million makes us concerned that many more people in the area are struggling alone.

“I would urge anyone in Malvern Hills who is struggling to make their council tax payments to contact National Debtline as soon as possible.”

However, the district owes the least amount of council tax in Worcestershire with more than £600,000 less than second-bottom Wychavon.

And Coun Paul Cumming, portfolio holder for finance at Malvern Hills District Council, said the authority collects more than 98 per cent of council tax owed to it and the total arrears had remained ‘broadly stable’ over the last two years.

“It continues to be the lowest in Worcestershire and among the lowest in the country,” he added. “Despite that we know some of our residents are finding life hard at the moment and that is why we offer help and support to them in a number of ways.

“Anyone struggling to pay their council tax bill should contact us as soon as possible and we will assist them by ensuring they are claiming all the discounts and benefits they are entitled to.

“In exceptional cases we may be able to offer use of our hardship fund for those most in need or make an alternative arrangement.”

The council also gives an annual grant of more than £70,000 so South Worcestershire Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

Call National Debtline for free on 0808 808 4000.

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