According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, UK households are failing to keep up payments on their basic household bills, such as council tax, water and energy repayments. According to the bureau, the total amount outstanding is a staggering £18.9bn in total across all types of debt.
Some £2.84bn is owed to councils in missed council tax payments, £2.2bn is owed to water companies and £7.5bn is owed in overpayments in tax credits. The issue is more serious, as falling behind on water and energy payments means having these services cut off, which affects health and well-being of families.
“People can face having their essential services cut off, be kicked out of their home due to rent arrears or even face prison if they get behind on their council tax,” Citizens Advice warned.
The charity said that it had seen a 24% rise in issues with bailiffs, citing an example of a retired couple who owed £700 in council tax. Bailiffs demanded the full amount immediately, threatening to call the police. Excessive bailiff enforcement fees, which add unnecessary amounts to debts further exacerbate the problem.
Citizens Advice Bureau data shows those those that get into household bill debt are more likely to be unemployed or have mental health issues.
Bills Dashboard believes that the bailiff industry should follow the payday lending industry example and have a cap on the amount of additional fees that can be charged by bailiffs.