Economy and Infrastructure

27.11.17

Thousands receive prison threats due to late council tax

Rising numbers of people are being threatened with prison over late council tax payments, with 4,800 people taken to court in 2016-17.

Data seen by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has shown the extent to which people are being pushed by councils to pay their taxes or face jail time.

The figures, from the Institute of Money Advisors (IMA), show an 11% increase in prison threats since 2013. This includes at least 62 people who were actually sent to jail over the course of this year.

Freedom of Information requests to 279 of 348 councils in England and Wales also revealed that the average council debt in the cases cited was £2,213.

Cllr Claire Kober, chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said: “Before councils take legal action, which is used as a last resort, people will have been encouraged to apply for monetary support and efforts will have been made to either attach the debt to a salary or arrange new payment plans.

“Local Government is built on the simple principle that everyone who lives in a community should also contribute to it. This means funding services that we all use through council tax, and it is not fair for the overwhelming majority of citizens that pay their council tax to let those who don’t pay their fair share continue to do so.

“Councils face a £5.8bn funding shortfall by 2020, which is why it’s essential councils collect these funds. Councils offer a variety of support to people on low incomes, or who are struggling with financial difficulties, through signposting to free debt advice, or through the joint Council Tax Protocol, which the LGA has developed alongside Citizens Advice to support those who are struggling.”

The law requires councils to try and recover the debt using bailiffs, as well as “enquiring” into the defendants means to pay.

However, the IMA has claimed that this is not always interpreted in the correct way, leaving some people unfairly punished.

Top image: Joe Giddens

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Protesters gather as councillors meet to discuss mass children’s centre closures

15/10/2018Protesters gather as councillors meet to discuss mass children’s centre closures

Demonstrators and parents have gathered outside County Hall in Norwich to protest against planned mass children’s centre closures as Norfol... more >
'Pioneer' Wigan Council CEO announces retirement

15/10/2018'Pioneer' Wigan Council CEO announces retirement

The chief executive of Wigan Council Donna Hall CBE has announced her retirement, after winning national acclaim for forging a new model of local... more >
Study shows English councils suffering ‘territorial injustice’ from government spending cuts

15/10/2018Study shows English councils suffering ‘territorial injustice’ from government spending cuts

 Research from Cambridge University has revealed that English councils have been hit twice as hard as councils in Scotland and Wales by spen... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Protesters gather as councillors meet to discuss mass children’s centre closures

15/10/2018Protesters gather as councillors meet to discuss mass children’s centre closures

Demonstrators and parents have gathered outside County Hall in Norwich to protest against planned mass children’s centre closures as Norfolk County Council meet to discuss the proposals. ... more >
'Pioneer' Wigan Council CEO announces retirement

15/10/2018'Pioneer' Wigan Council CEO announces retirement

The chief executive of Wigan Council Donna Hall CBE has announced her retirement, after winning national acclaim for forging a new model of local government during her eight years in charge. ... more >

the raven's daily blog

What cities should become

15/10/2018What cities should become

Tom Leaver, project manager at Future Cities Catapult, examines the rationale behind the creation of the City Data Sharing Toolkit, and explores how this is driving a seismic shift in how cities evolve into our data-rich future. We’re used to big-screen sci-fi future cities being dystopian monoliths to everything wrong with the worl... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Inspiring leadership in social value

15/10/2018Inspiring leadership in social value

We have learned a lot since the last National Social Value Conference, with many organisations both in the public and private sectors now embeddi... more >
Is fair funding possible, or pie in the sky?

15/10/2018Is fair funding possible, or pie in the sky?

David Phillips, associate director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, discusses the current health of local government finance, and how a bette... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >
The Convention of the North

15/10/2018The Convention of the North

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, discusses the findings of the very first Convention of the North, which was held in Newcastle... more >

interviews

Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >
Michael King: Time for Ombudsman reform

06/08/2018Michael King: Time for Ombudsman reform

Michael King first joined the Local Government Ombudsman service back in 2004 as deputy ombudsman. At the start of 2017, he was appointed as the ... more >
Helping a city understand itself

06/08/2018Helping a city understand itself

SPONSORED INTERVIEW The urban landscape is changing. How can local authorities keep up with citizen behaviour? Stephen Leece, managing directo... more >
Modern policing: the future is bright

06/08/2018Modern policing: the future is bright

SPONSORED INTERVIEW The public sector, and policing in particular, has often been criticised as being slow to adapt to change. But now, says L... more >

public sector focus

View all News