Cost of living crisis sparks rise in council tax warrants, Labour claims

The warrants, which are granted by the court, can see people have their bank accounts frozen and wages arrested. Picture: TSPL
The warrants, which are granted by the court, can see people have their bank accounts frozen and wages arrested. Picture: TSPL
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The number of people issued with warrants for council tax arrears has risen by nearly 40% in the last five years, according to official figures.

A total of 463,729 summary warranted were issued in 2016-17, a 38 per cent increase from the total of 337,089 recorded in 2011-12, according to data from the Accountant in Bankruptcy.

The warrants, which are granted by the court, can see people have their bank accounts frozen and wages arrested.

In addition, sheriff officers can be given the power to remove belongings from someone’s home to repay the debt.

Labour claimed the rise in warrants showed many Scots were struggling with the “cost of living crisis”.

To tackle this it called on the Scottish Government to scrap the council tax system altogether, saying ministers must do more than “tinker around the edges”.

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The SNP had pledged to abolish the council tax in its 2007 manifesto, but later dropped the commitment.

Elaine Smith, Labour’s spokeswoman for poverty and inequality, hit out and said: “These figures show the failure of the SNP and the Tories to make our economy work for working class people.

“SNP ministers claim that the fundamentals of our economy are strong - but for too many families in Scotland our economy is fundamentally broken.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We know that, under UK Government welfare cuts, money is being taken from the pockets of low income families, pushing them into crisis, debt and poverty. We are spending more than £127 million this year to try and mitigate that, and provide vital support for low income households.

“We have made council tax fairer and included a 25 per cent increase to the child allowance in the reforms that were introduced last year. We have extended relief for low to middle income households from the impact of the council tax reforms on properties in bands E-H.

“And we have invested over £1.4 billion in the Council Tax Reduction scheme since 2013/14, assisting almost half a million households each year to meet their council tax.

“We have also said that we are committed to making local taxation more progressive and that we are open to further dialogue on options for local tax reform.”