Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is warning that the country could be faced with something like a “council tax debt explosion” in 2021 as the Covid pandemic takes its toll on household finances.
Council tax debts have long been a common problem for people struggling to manage their money but 2020 apparently saw a major uptick in the scale of debts being accumulated in these contexts.
Several thousand people got in touch with CAS to discuss council tax debts in the year 2019/20 but the charity is worried about the potential impact of the Covid-19 crisis on Scots who were already finding it tough to keep up with their bills.
The fear is that there will be a large number of Scots struggling to make ends meet throughout this year and huge problems with council tax debts across the country.
With that in mind, the charity is urging anyone who might be eligible to investigate the council tax reduction schemes that have been established by the Scottish government.
Reductions can usually be backdated to potentially alleviate some of the financial pressures being felt by individuals and families across Scotland.
Among the main issues highlighted by CAS in relation to council tax debts is that while many local authorities offered payment breaks in the early months of the pandemic the amounts owed generally continued to accumulate.
So, for many people, the payment breaks on their council taxes eventually left them significantly in arrears even as they were struggling to make ends meet with a diminished monthly income.
From the perspective of the CAS, there is clearly a likelihood that the issue of council tax debt will be a major one in 2021, even if the pandemic subsides in the coming months.
“Scotland is potentially facing an explosion of council tax debt in 2021,” said CAS’ financial health spokesperson Myles Fitt.
“The figures before the pandemic are bad enough, but the real fear is that Covid-19 is going to make matters much worse.”
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