Over-reliance on bailiffs to reclaim council tax “worrying”, say Welsh Conservatives
Council tax arrears are now the biggest debt problem seen in Wales, say reports today.
According to Citizens Advice in Wales, almost 6,000 people asked for help with 16,000 problems about council tax in 2015-16 – up 7% on 2014-15.
The news comes as the Welsh Government publishes a statement on their council tax reduction scheme.
Commenting for the Welsh Conservatives, Shadow Local Government Secretary – Janet Finch-Saunders – expressed concerns over a growing trend of councils employing bailiffs to reclaim tax; with councils spending hundreds of thousands of pounds each year on bailiffs and enforcement agents.
Mrs Finch-Saunders said:
“We are witnessing a startling rise in the number of people from working families who are struggling to pay their council tax bills, and it’s a sad indictment of the impact of Welsh Labour’s refusal to implement a council tax freeze here in Wales.
“Council tax is now the biggest debt problem in Wales and there is a growing trend amongst local authorities to reach for the bailiffs to reclaim the cash, when in many cases that approach is far too heavy handed and only adds to a mounting pile of financial problems for families.
“We need to see the Welsh Government making this issue a key priority for the new assembly term, and I very much welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to developing more proactive approaches to helping prevent personal debt from escalating.
“However, Welsh Labour should also reconsider our proposal to implement a council tax freeze. The freeze will allow people to keep more of the money they earn, helping to deliver financial security for hardworking families and offer a much-needed boost to local economies.”