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Rent and council tax debt are putting pressure on Londoners’ finances

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Blog by Matt Dronfield

London is an incredible city - a truly global capital. But London is also the UK’s and one of the world’s most expensive cities.

While there are many opportunities, many Londoners face challenges as they try to make ends meet.

Housing is a big political issue - we saw this at the General Election and it is sure to remain a big issue in the coming years, across the UK. In London, the combination of a high cost of living and a shortage of affordable housing mean this issue is felt by a large chunk of the population.

With housing being such a major issue in the capital, it’s unsurprising that over the past four years, we’ve seen an increasing number of people coming to us in need of support with council tax bills and rent arrears (Source: Working for a Debt Free London, June 2019). 

When someone falls behind with council tax or rent, they’re classed as having a ‘priority debt’ – which carries serious repercussions, such as the threat of bailiffs, homelessness or even imprisonment.

Jo’s story...

When Jo fell behind on her council tax she found herself struggling while her debt continued to grow. With almost £3,500 in arrears, bailiffs started to show up at her home, threatening to take her possessions in order to clear the debt. Jo already struggled with her mental health and this only made it worse. Both Jo and her son were afraid and intimidated.

With the situation looking impossible to resolve, Jo reached out. She called Debt Free Advice and made the first step in clearing her debt.

We contacted her local authority, who considered her circumstances and called off the bailiffs. We also noticed that her council tax bills didn’t include the disability discount she was entitled to, nor her son’s student exemption. 

We worked with Jo to apply for the relevant discounts and get them backdated, which dramatically reduced the amount of money she owed. This advice and support helped Jo to become more aware of her responsibilities and take control of her finances.

Jo is not alone in her experience. Over 1.3 million Londoners struggle to make ends meet every year. We are on a mission to support every Londoner to get debt free.

If you are struggling with rent or council tax arrears, or any other form of debt, we are here to help. Our expert Debt Advisors are on hand to provide free, expert advice you can trust at over 50 locations across London.