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Government review of council tax collection must lead to fundamental changes

10 April 2019

Citizens Advice has responded to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s review into collection of council tax debt.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“We’re pleased to see the often harmful debt collection practices of councils are finally under the government’s spotlight.

“The way some local authorities chase arrears can be a huge issue for those in financial difficulty. Falling behind on one council tax bill can have disproportionate consequences and send debts spiralling.

“It’s critical this review properly looks at the rules governing council tax collection and leads to fundamental change.

“This includes stopping practices such as charging a full year’s bill when people miss just one payment, and ensuring that heavy handed collection tactics such as bailiffs are only used as a last resort.”


In the past year, Citizens Advice helped more than 93,000 people with council tax debt.

The average person we helped with this debt had just £15 a week disposable income. This is based on analysis of more than 4,200 Citizens Advice clients with council tax debts who received debt advice between April and June 2018.

Citizens Advice is helping twice as many people with problem debt on household bills, including council tax, compared to those with consumer credit debts. Nearly a third have problems with debt collectors and enforcement - twice the rate of those with consumer debts.

Partnering with 10 other advice organisations as part of Taking Control on bailiff reform, the charity is also calling for the Ministry of Justice to introduce independent bailiff regulation to enforce adequate standards in the bailiff industry.

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.