Crawley residents owe more than £2.5m in unpaid council tax.
According to National Debtline, a free advice service run by the charity Money Advice Trust, households were behind on their bills by a total of £2,552,000 for 2014/15, down from £2,708,000 the year before.
Although Crawley Borough Council is the collecting authority West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police also set their own precepts.
A spokesperson for Crawley Borough Council said: “The figures represent the amount of council tax outstanding for CBC, WSCC and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.
“The proportion of the money outstanding in respect of Crawley BC’s proportion is about £300,000 for 2014/15. However, in terms of collection, it is our duty to undertake all the collection duties.
“Our in year collection rate for 2014/15 was 98.4 per cent. This compares with a national in-year collection rate of 97.0 per cent.
“The figure outstanding represents the sums outstanding for all previous financial years. We continue to collect monies due after a financial year has ended, and ultimately we would hope to collect about 99.5 per cent. We would urge anyone who has council tax outstanding to contact us to make sustainable arrangements to pay, and avoid other recovery action.”
The council has a Fair Debt Collection Charter which sets out its ‘commitment to collect money owed fairly and efficiently’.
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 Crawley residents owe £2,552,000 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 Crawley 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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