Households in the North East and North Yorkshire Hit Hardest by ‘Bedroom Tax’

Residents in the North-East and North Yorkshire have reportedly been hit harder by the unpopular ‘bedroom tax’ than the rest of the UK, with a report from Oxfam and the New Policy Institute warning that cuts and changes to welfare support are plunging vulnerable and low-income families deeper into debt. These findings come from the study, ‘Multiple Cuts for the Poorest Families’, which revealed that 28,000 of the poorest households across the region are being hit hard by the government’s bedroom tax.

For these families, the additional tax knocks off around £12.80 per week, and at least 3,000 households are at least £20 a week worse off. This means that the region’s job seekers, carers, single parents and other vulnerable residents are being put in the impossible position of being unable to make payments, falling deeper into debt. Kevan Jones, North Durham MP, has highlighted the record use of food banks as an indicator of how bad things have gotten for these lowest-earning families.

He said: “In the year 2014 it is a national scandal. It is a situation where they are forcing people to move who have lived in the same homes for many years. The Government is treating people’s home as commodities rather than homes.”

Mark Goldring, Oxfam chief executive, added: “This is the latest evidence of a perfect storm blowing massive holes in the safety net which is supposed to stop people falling further into poverty.”

Cut to support for those most at risk has worsened the problem, with 103,000 households now being asked to pay when they were previously deemed to poor. This means that many households in the region and across the rest of the country are being asked to make council tax payments for the first time, taking much-needed support away and causing families to fall into arrears as a result.

Council Tax Advisors, a free service that offers help and advice for these families and individuals currently struggling with council tax debt and other associated troubles such as bailiffs, is dedicated to finding solutions for people most at risk. We understand that falling behind on payments can be an incredibly stressful and isolating experience, and have a team of experts on hand to help arrange repayment plans and offer information on your rights and the rights of bailiffs if they come knocking.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your family with reasonable repayment plans, help and information about bailiffs, and so much more.

English Homes Pressured by Bailiffs Following Cuts of Council Tax Support

Let’s all thank Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who saw fit to see council tax benefit slashed by an enormous £500million. It is clear to us that Mr. Pickles isn’t in a position where he requires council tax benefits – if he were; perhaps he would have had the sense not to cut it. Instead, he has now put nearly 700,000 people in danger over unpaid taxes and a further 1.5 million are affected by the ‘Poll Tax’.

The council tax benefits originally existed to help people that couldn’t afford to pay for their full council tax, keeping citizens above the poverty line in agreement with European Union legislation. But now that the benefits have been cut, nearly 2.2 million people, including nearly 400,000 disabled people are suffering with paying the full amount requested.

The government hasn’t responded to this by turning the policy around, rather it has seen councils attempt to collect the debts through whichever means are possible. In this case, 87,000 people so far have been pursued by bailiffs as a result of unpaid tax. A further 600,000 have been summonsed to court.

All the time the British people are struggling on unawares that there are measures in place to help them, if they require it. Council Tax Advisors are on hand to all people struggling with council tax and most specifically with bailiff problems. Of all the paths available to the struggling Brit right now, Council Tax Advisors offer the broadest scope of advice, and hands on help.

In England there are 326 local authorities that regulate districts around the country and a huge 232 of those have recently had their council tax support cut in the last year. We know this is unacceptable. We know that you know this is unacceptable. So stop accepting that the government has damaged your financial stability rather than help you to improve your financial stability and take action against them. Don’t know where to start? Ask Council Tax Advisors.

When people can’t pay, you know that taxes are too high.

Tougher Action in Lincolnshire Results in More Summonses Issued

Changes to council tax rules for so many households across the UK last year has meant that the amount of tax owed in Lincolnshire has risen to £3,733,000 since April 2011. Tougher action from the council has meant that over 4,800 extra summonses have been issued and the amount of council tax collected in the region has increased by £1.8 million. That still leaves a shortfall of £1.7 million, however, with £68.44 million of £70.15 million recouped from what was owed last year.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council is committed to supporting customers who have genuine difficulty with paying their council tax, while taking robust enforcement action against those who simply won’t pay. While usual recovery procedures continue, in line with relevant legislation, we are noticeably sending a larger number of council tax reminder notices and summonses as people struggle through the ongoing recession.”

This highlights the struggles that many families are going through with making council tax payments, often falling into large amounts of debt because of the changes to rules that have meant some households are paying for the first time. This goes some way to explaining the increased amounts of debt that councils are having to recoup, with enforcement agents being called on to visit those poorest homes – often occupied by vulnerable people unable to deal with bailiffs or other debt collection action.

John O’Connell, the spokesman for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “When there’s a tax gap like this, it’s usually residents who suffer as taxes are often increased to plug the gap.”

For those who do find themselves struggling with council tax debt, there is help at hand. Council Tax Advisors is a free service that aims to offer vital help and advice to those households who have become embroiled with arrears, bailiffs and other pressures of making council tax payments they simply cannot afford. By coming to us, people get a friendly, sympathetic ear and a highly professional service that can help in a number of ways.

From simple advice about how to escape the cycle of debt and anxiety, to setting up practical repayment plans with your council, CTA is the best place to take these troubles if they are to be resolved. The recession has hit many families hard, with the poorest households often suffering the most, and council tax debt has risen as a result. Contact us today to find out how we can help your situation, as we have so many others.

Islington Liberal Democrats Pledge to Freeze Council Tax

Liberal Democrats in Islington have pledged to freeze council tax in the borough in order to help households save on their bills, as well as creating new jobs and building new homes for the community. This is providing they are elected to run Islington Council next month, of course, pledging to both provide more jobs and to reduce the cost of living for residents.

Cllr Terry Stacy said: “We are pledging to freeze council tax for the next four years and deliver savings for every household. We will make sure there are new homes for people in need and those renting privately get a fairer deal. Our vision is to create a stronger local economy in a fairer Islington. To make this happen, we are campaigning on five key issues to create jobs and help you with the cost of living.”

This pledge to freeze council tax in Islington is great news for families in the borough, and new fees and decreasing support has made it harder and harder for many low-income households to keep up with payments. In too many cases this results in bailiff action that can send some into a spiral of debt and fear, with newly introduced fees only adding to the issue.

Council Tax Advisors, however, is a service dedicated to offering help and advice to those vulnerable people about how to manage their debt and any problems they have experienced with bailiffs, and we are proud to have helped tens of thousands of people to date. We come from a place of understanding, having experienced many of the same issues, and aim to help people overcome their own troubles with council tax arrears.

Even with improvements made to bailiff policies, many families are finding themselves snowed under with sometimes crippling amounts of debt, contributed to by the withdrawal of government support that has occurred in recent times. In fact, many families across the UK are only now being faced with paying council tax without any government aid, and the financial situation of those poorest households has made falling into debt inevitable for some.

The promise from Lib Dems in Islington to freeze council tax is encouraging for residents of the area as, despite some existing problems, they can be sure that payments will not increase should the party be elected to run in the next election. If you are experiencing problems with bailiffs or council tax arrears, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help.

Council Tax Arrears Figures Revealed in New Report

Figures for council tax arrears have been revealed as part of a new report on bailiff reforms, and it amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid council tax owed to local authorities across the country such as South Derbyshire District Council. In many cases, councils have used bailiffs to collect debts from those households in arrears, an action which is reportedly only used when the “best efforts [of] officers” fail to successfully recover payments.

What the report doesn’t concern itself with, however, is the inability of many families to keep up with council tax payments, many of whom have only just become eligible since support for low-income households was cut across the UK. This has led to more and more individuals and families struggling with council tax debt, with the fear of bailiff visits continuously hanging over them. And with reports of unprofessional bailiffs using threatening or unlawful tactics making the issue worse, reforms have had to be brought in to address the issues.

Kevin Stackhouse, director of finance and corporate services, said: “The nature of the bailiff’s work inevitably results in concerns being raised by debtors regarding individual bailiffs and or the process. In a handful of cases a change in process has been made subsequently to improve transparency and clarity.”

Various new rules regarding what bailiffs are and aren’t allowed to do when visiting debtors’ home were put in place earlier this month. In South Derbyshire in 2012-13, however, £617,372 of unpaid debt was owed to the district council across 1,295 cases, highlighting the huge problem with households falling into arrears across the country. In addition to this, new fees regarding bailiff visits have been introduced, adding to the amount owed for thousands of low income households.

This includes a non-refundable charge of £75 for non-enforcement activity such as phone calls, emails and visitation arrangements, with a further £235 added whenever an enforcement agent pays a visit to a debtor’s home. With payments already a problem when these charges are applied, despite the improvement in bailiff behaviour, many families are simply finding that their financial problems are worsening with the newly introduced fees, and Council Tax Advisors have seen a marked increase in enquiries because of this.

Going through problems with council tax arrears can be an incredibly stressful and isolating experience, but the experts at CTA are here to help organise repayment plans, offer advice and help with a friendly and professional service designed to rid those in need of their issues with council tax debt and bailiffs for good. Contact us today to find out more.

Protests in Chelmsford over Council Tax Freeze Spark Debate

The TaxPayers’ Alliance gathered in Chelmsford City Centre recently to protest the council tax freeze, handing out almost 600 leaflets to shoppers on the High Street before gathering under the statue in Tindal Square and then moving to County Hall. The campaign group have demanded that taxes be cut, slating the council for wasting money and not doing enough to help struggling households.

Chris Manby, grassroots co-ordinator in Essex, said: “We do think that the level of council tax is unacceptable. We think hard-pressed families would be better served by cutting the tax and giving them more of their own money to spend. The average band D house in Chelmsford is £35 more than the national average. It may not seem like much, but it’s the difference between buying something in the shops and not.”

Despite freezing council tax earlier this year, the Alliance maintain that the tax should actually have been cut altogether, easing pressure on the poorest households across the county. In fact, with rising council tax fees across the country and other charges associated with bailiff visits newly introduced, the issue of mounting council tax debt has been a topic of discussion. With more people struggling to keep up with their payments, the need for services like Council Tax Advisors has also grown.

We offer help and advice for struggling individuals and families, with information and guidance coming from a place of experience and a sympathetic ear for those who might just be at the end of their tether. As well as this, however, it’s also possible for us to mediate between the debtor and their council, organising a reasonable repayment plan that works for everyone.

Campaigners such as the TaxPayers’ Alliance are seeking more aid and less pressure on those families and households that need it most but, as we know, falling into council tax arrears is something that can happen to absolutely anyone. This makes it more important than ever for help to be there in spite of the rising tax rates and threat of bailiff action hanging over those who find themselves falling into debt, and that’s where Council Tax Advisors come in. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

UK’s Poorest are Being Plunged Deeper and Deeper in Debt

Almost 1.75 million of the UK’s poorest households are being driven further and further into debt by cuts to welfare and rapidly increasing fees, says Oxfam in a recent report. Significant changes to welfare rules over the last three years have created a “perfect storm” of trouble for many of the country’s poorest families, with fewer exceptions and the unpopular ‘bedroom tax’ making it harder for them to keep up with payments and out of crippling debt.

The report from Oxfam and the New Policy Institute has suggested that the worst off 200,000 UK families could lose £864 a year after welfare reform and other policy changes. In Wales, doctors have reportedly seen hundreds of cases of malnutrition and many food banks have revealed the growing number of people turning to them for help with the basics. The Trussell Trust, for example, has revealed that the number of adults and children receiving emergency supplies from food banks in the last year has risen by a massive 163%.

Four policies thought to be responsible for many families’ debt are the bedroom tax, the lower limit on Local Housing Allowance payments to people renting privately, the £500-per week cap on benefits and the replacement of council tax exemption with the council tax support discount.

Some 1.4 million households are now eligible to pay council tax for the first time, which means that many families previously deemed too poor to pay have had to fork out for council tax payments or else face the stress of falling into arrears and being visited by bailiffs if they don’t pay.

Council Tax Advisors offers a service that helps those who do find themselves falling into debt, with advice and guidance given on dealing with council tax arrears, bailiffs and everything else associated with falling behind on payments. With our team of sympathetic experts, families who find their options for digging themselves out of debt dwindling always have somewhere to turn and can find practical solutions to their predicament.

With welfare reforms and cuts to benefits affecting the UK’s lowest earning households the hardest, it is more important than ever that information on these issues be shared freely, and Council Tax Advisors offer guidance on everything from crafting a repayment plan to the proper rules and regulations of bailiffs and enforcement officers. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

Second Home Owners Could Face Steep Rise in Council Tax

Wales is notoriously popular amongst those looking for holiday homes within Britain. Picturesque, quaint and set in rolling country side, destinations like Tenby, Anglesey and Cardigan Bay are filled with second homes, however under new proposals unveiled by the Welsh government, council tax for these properties could be doubled.

It has been revealed that local authorities will have powers to charge a council tax premium of up to 100% on second homes, as part of an amendment to the Housing Bill. Whilst Plaid Cymru, the National party of Wales, has welcomed the move, the Conservatives have warned that those who invest their life savings in second homes could be penalised. It’s also not likely to be popular amongst the 23,000 people who have second homes here.

The concern is that whilst second homes can have benefits for the local economy and tourism, the fact they are only occupied for part of the year could have an adverse impact on providers of local services and the availability of affordable housing for local people. It’s this concept that has led Housing Minister Carl Sargeant to explain that councils with high concentrations of second homes might think it necessary for people who have more than one home to “make an extra contribution to the provision of local services and affordable housing through the local taxation system.”

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) is in favour of the move, although the organisation pointed out that there was still a case for councils to have “complete flexibility” on fixing the premium. A spokesman said “these additional powers should be seen an acknowledgement of the impact that second homes have on the long-term sustainability of local communities.”

Here at Council Tax Advisors we specialise in issues like this, so we’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of the proposals. Council tax for one property can be complicated enough without considering holiday and second homes so we’re hoping that any forthcoming changes are kept as clear as possible.

Those with concerns over council tax, or are in council tax arrears can speak to a friendly and knowledgeable team member at Council Tax Advisors to help you resolve your issues.

New Mansion Tax Plans Receives Support from Nick Clegg

Newly announced plans for a higher council tax band for expensive properties have been backed by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who has described the move as “fully deliverable.” If they come to fruition, these plans will mean that households valued at £2 million or more would be subject to higher council tax payments in order to make the system fairer on those households on a lower income. While Conservatives have rejected the idea of a so-called “mansion tax,” the Lib Dems have reportedly “scrutinised” the system in order to introduce new council tax bands for more expensive properties.

Speaking at a recent press conference, Mr Clegg said: “Danny [Alexander, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury] has made sure it’s been properly scrutinised by the Treasury so it’s fully deliverable.”

The proposed “mansion tax” has been a long-gestating idea that always aimed to increase the amount of council tax the UK’s richest households would pay. Now, with a higher council tax band applied to properties worth over £2 million, residents with the highest income will be taken out of the current highest band, band H for properties valued at more than £320,000, and classified differently. This would hopefully bring about a fairer system for everyone.

But, for those households at the other end of the spectrum, falling into council tax arrears is still far too common an occurrence, and families can often be put under huge stress and financial strain when council tax debt begins to build up. As most of us know, this can result in visits to the home from bailiffs, with many constantly looking over their shoulders when faced with mounting debts and with nowhere to turn. But that’s where the right bit of advice and guidance can help, and that’s what Council Tax Advisors offer.

With support for many families across the UK being cut, more and more households are struggling with these exact problems, and are more in need of help from a friendly and professional service like ours than ever. Despite reforms to the system that promises to consider charges for fairly, low income households are still struggling but, with the help of CTA, those who are experiencing the stress of falling further and further into council tax arrears can find advice and practical solutions such as organising repayment plans and more.

Help Could be Offered to Poorest Households in Cornwall

There always seems to be a lot of doom and gloom surrounding council tax in the news, with benefits being cut, extra charges being applied and a general tightening of much of the country’s belts, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for Cornwall residents after the council announced plans to increase help for those who need it most. This means that those households who currently receive council tax support can now apply for up to 100% of their council tax shortfall.

This would be provided by the council’s discretionary exceptional relief and transitional support fund, whereas applicants could previously only apply for up to 50%. Alex Folkes, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for finance and resources, said:

“We recognise that some of the least well off in Cornwall are being faced with a council tax bill for the first time. Whilst we all accept that those who can afford to pay towards their bill should be asked to do so, there are undoubtedly some households who will struggle to make any payments. Rather than force them to choose between paying their council tax and heating or eating, we have increased the amount that can be awarded in help. This help is only available in the short term and will come alongside support from the council and our partners to look at all the options for making positive changes to their personal and financial circumstances.”

At Council Tax Advisors, we understand the falling into council tax arrears can happen to anyone and without warning families can find themselves in a seemingly endless cycle of debt, worry and stress. Not only can this mean financial issues, but also a great impact on households’ quality of life, constantly frightened of the consequences, such as a visit from bailiffs, of falling into arrears. With our help and advice, however, this can be rectified and families can get themselves back on track.

While improved benefits for those poorest households is a great thing that could have a big impact in Cornwall and any other region adopting a similar practice, many people will still find themselves in trouble with bailiffs and council tax debt. This is where the friendly, personal and professional service from CTA comes in, as we speak from a place much like those who comes to us. Offering useful and practical solutions such as mediation with councils to arrange reasonable repayment plans, we are the best people to help.

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