Rother households owe £2m in unpaid council tax

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Rother residents owe £2m in unpaid council tax – according to figures from a national charity.

Research by the National Debtline, a free advice service run by the charity Money Advice Trust, showed that households in the district were behind on their bills by a running total of £2m in 2014/15, up from £1,802,000 the year before.

It received 92 calls from Rother residents in 2014.

Although Rother District Council is the collecting authority East Sussex County Council and Sussex Police also set their own council tax precepts.

A Rother District Council spokesman said: “In the last financial year, a total of 98.49 per cent of council tax owed was collected by the council.

“Council tax is used to pay for the essential services we all use, so we have a duty to the taxpayer to use all reasonable means to ensure outstanding money is collected.

“However, we do adopt a flexible approach which takes into account people’s circumstances and their ability to pay.

“In exceptional cases, such as where a person in arrears dies, or we are unable to trace the debtor, the outstanding amount is written off as irrecoverable.

“We advise anyone who is experiencing difficulty in making payments to contact support agencies which may be able to help, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

“We also encourage people who may be eligible for a council tax discount to apply for it, to ensure they’re not paying more than they need to.”

The total figure also includes outstanding court costs where the council has taken legal action against non-payers.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “We are seeing more and more people seek help with council tax arrears – but the fact that Rother residents owe £2m makes us concerned that many more people in the area are struggling alone. Free debt advice services such as National Debtline are here to help.

“We would like to see local authorities do everything they can to help residents who are falling behind to seek the free advice that can turn their lives around. We know that the earlier a problem is caught, the better the outcome.

“I would urge anyone in the Rother district who is struggling to make their council tax payments to contact National Debtline as soon as possible. Our expert advisers are on hand to work through your situation and help you get back on track with your finances.”

National Debtline offers free, independent and confidential advice 24 hours a day online at www.nationaldebtline.org and on 0808 808 4000, Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm, Saturday 9.30am to 1pm.

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