Mid Sussex households owe £4.2m in unpaid council tax

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Mid Sussex residents owe almost £4.2m 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 £4,189,000 for 2014/15, down from £4,283,000 the year before.

It received 153 calls from residents in Mid Sussex in 2014, the fourth highest number in Sussex behind Brighton and Hove, Crawley, and Arun.

Although Mid Sussex District Council is the collecting authority West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police also set their own precepts.

Jonathan Ash-Edwards (Con, Haywards Heath - Heath), MSDC’s cabinet member for finance and service delivery, said: “Mid Sussex residents owe £4.065 million in unpaid council tax and we are in the process of recovering £3.8 million of this debt.

“Last year Mid Sussex District Council collected 98.53 per cent (in year 14/15) of all council tax money owed. This figure will rise as we continue to pursue the outstanding debt.

“If residents get into arrears, we work with them closely to make arrangements that will help them to catch-up. This can involve putting them in contact with local organisations that provide help and support with money management such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Consumer Credit Counselling Service and the National Debt Line.”

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 Mid Sussex residents owe £4,189,000 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 Mid Sussex 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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