East Cambridgeshire residents owe an average of £68 per home in council tax, said debt charity

East Cambridgeshire District Council.

East Cambridgeshire District Council. - Credit: Archant

People in the Ely area owe £2.5 million in unpaid council tax, leading a national debt charity to urge people to seek free advice if they are struggling with payments.

National Debtline, a free advice service, highlighted the figure, after learning that 121 people in the East Cambridgeshire area contacted their service for advice.

The news comes amid figures that show people are in debt by an average of £68 per dwelling.

The figure is up from £2,118,000 on the previous year.

Linda Grinnell, Financial Services Manager with East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Every year we collect around £44 million in Council Tax and we have worked very hard, between ourselves and Anglia Revenue Partnership, to help anyone who is struggling with their Council Tax payments.

“Our staff will work with you to find ways of paying for your council tax which can meet the circumstances which you may find yourself in. The worst thing you can do is not to pay as that simply makes the issue more difficult.

“The best advice we can give is if you are having problems please get in touch – we will help all we can.”

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After seeking advice from the charity-run service, 80 percent of people say they feel more in control of their finances, with 98 percent clear about the next steps they need to take to deal with their situation.

The charity, says that council tax is now the fastest growing type of problem debt it is helping clients to resolve – with 24 percent of all callers now in arrears, up from 14 percent in 2007.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “We are seeing more and more people seek help with council tax arrears. The fact East Cambridgeshire residents owe £2.5 million makes us concerned that many more people in the area are struggling alone.

“We know that that the earlier a problem is caught, the better the outcome.“