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“Too often we see the harm that’s caused by the way this debt is collected”, Citizens Advice welcomes new guidance for recovery of council tax

4 Rhagfyr 2018

Today, the Money Advice Service has launched guidance for a more progressive approach to the recovery of Council Tax.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

"Council tax arrears are the most common debt issue we help people with at Citizens Advice.

"Too often we see the harm that's caused by the way this debt is collected, including further financial hardship and stress. The pursuit of government debt by authorities has also been criticised by MPs.

"Good collection practices by local authorities can work. By helping those who are struggling to meet their payments, councils can improve their collection rates.

"While voluntary approaches are welcome, to properly protect people from bad practices the government needs to establish an independent bailiff regulator."


Since 2014, it has been more common for people to come to Citizens Advice for help with household bill debts - such as council tax - than with problems related to consumer credit debts.

Between 2011/12 and 2017/18 council tax arrears problems increased from 168,000 to 217,000.

Our Council Tax Protocol has been signed by 61 councils, covering over 12.1m people (22% of the population in England.)

The amount of council tax arrears is calculated at £2.84 billion. This is based on data from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This year, MPs on the Treasury Select Committee this year labelled government debt collection practices as "overzealous and with routine recourse to bailiffs."

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  3. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 to talk in Welsh.
  8. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.