Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is calling on people to check if they are entitled to make council tax savings, as new research shows that the extent of council tax debt among people who turn to the charity for help.
Analysis of debt cases for 2018/19 reveals that people who have turned to the charity for help with council tax debt owe a combined £6.4million.
With 3,399 people looking for advice over that period, the debts worked out to around £1,900 on average.
This is significantly larger than the average council tax per dwelling for the country, which according to the most recent Scottish government figures stands at £1,147 per year
In addition, figures released by the Scottish Government for June this year show 9,210 fewer households were claiming Council Tax Reduction (CTR) compared to June 2018, and almost 80,000 fewer households are claiming it compared to April 2013 when the new scheme was introduced.
The reduction is worth on average around £700 per household per year and could help prevent people from falling into council tax debt.
In May this year Citizens Advice Scotland launched a new tool to help people check if they are eligible for Council Tax savings at www.checkmycounciltax.scot.
Previous research for CAS found that around a quarter of working people in Scotland who ran out of money before payday missed making their council tax payment as a result.
CAS Financial Health Spokesperson Myles Fitt said:
“The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps hundreds of thousands of people every year and we are largest provider of free debt advice in the country.
“A significant issue for the people who come to us for help is council tax debt, with people owing a cumulative £6.4million to local authorities.
“That works out to around £1,900 per person on average, a sum larger than most people’s council tax bill in total.
“This debt is also set against a landscape where fewer households are claiming Council Tax Reduction compared to the old scheme.
“That’s why Citizens Advice Scotland built an online tool to let people check if they are eligible for Council Tax savings, including CTR. We want more people to access the scheme and cut their bills as a result.
“Local Authorities should also ensure that they have systems in place to help people who have difficulties paying council tax from getting into problem debt.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Analysis of Citizens Advice network data for debt for 2018/19 show that almost 3,400 bureaux clients (3,399) received advice in relation to over £6.4 million (£6,422,538.15) in council tax related debt. Averaged across those clients, that’s almost £1.9K per person (£1.889.54)
The average council tax per dwelling in Scotland for 2019/20 is £1,147