Lancaster and Morecambe owed millions in council tax last year

Council tax bill
Council tax bill
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Lancaster and Morecambe residents owed £2.3m in unpaid council tax over the past year.

A total of £7.9m in council tax debt has been run up in the Lancaster district since the tax was introduced in 1993 although Lancaster City Council said most of this has now been paid.

A spokesman from Lancaster City Council also said most of the £2.3m in 2014/15 was from late-paid accounts and has now been collected.

The figures were released after National Debtline, a free debt advice service run by the Money Advice Trust, said 124 calls for help with debt were made from the Lancaster district to them last year.

The charity gives residents free advice on how to resolve their financial difficulties.

A spokesman for the charity said council tax is now the fastest growing type of problem debt it is helping clients to resolve – with 24 per cent of all callers now in arrears, up from 14 per cent in 2007.

Coun Richard Newman-Thompson, Lancaster City Council cabinet member with responsibility for revenues and benefits, said: “The council is committed to ensuring that residents get the help and support they need to claim the discounts in council tax to which they are entitled.

“We are one of the few authorities that has chosen not to make any reductions to the levels of council tax support it provides to vulnerable and low income households.

“Any resident falling into arrears is urged to contact the council in the first instance so that arrangements can be made to pay what they owe in an affordable way.”