Thousands bankrupted over unpaid council tax

Author: The Times   |  

Thousands of vulnerable people are being forced into bankruptcy as town halls use increasingly aggressive tactics to chase council tax arrears.

Some households owing hundreds of pounds are saddled with debts in five figures as a result of such action, The Times has learnt.

Pensioners and poor families have even had to sell their homes to meet huge legal costs arising from bank-rupcy orders that dwarf the original debt, according to Citizens Advice.

Bailiffs were used in 1.2 million cases to recover council tax arrears last year, and 2.5 million households received courts summonses. Of 19,156 bankruptcy petitions, one in five was lodged by local authorities. In 1992-93 the proportion was one in a hundred.

The figures have prompted calls for councils to be less draconian and to use bankruptcy proceedings only as a last resort in extreme cases.

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