Horsham district residents owe more than £3m in unpaid council tax – according to figures from a national charity.
Research by the National Debtline, a free advice service run by the charity Money Advice Trust, showed that households were behind on their bills by a cumulative total of £3,350,000 for 2014/15, up from £3,262,000 the year before.
The helpline received 134 calls from Horsham residents in 2014.
Although Horsham District Council is the collecting authority West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police also set their own precepts.
A spokesperson for Horsham District Council said: “Over 98 per cent of this year’s council tax payments have been collected which is higher than the national average.
“We vigorously pursue unpaid council tax whilst taking into account any financial difficulties people may be experiencing.
“Where there are payment difficulties, we try to work with the people concerned to make payment arrangements that are realistic, both from the perspective of the individual and the council.
“Our bills, letters and website signpost council tax payers to independent advice and support and we encourage residents experiencing financial difficulties to speak to these support organisations.”
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 Horsham residents owe £3,350,000 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 the Horsham district 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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