Scots urged to seek help as council tax debt surges with arrival of new bills

Scots urged to seek help as council tax debt surges with arrival of new bills

Glasgow, Scotland – March 26, 2024:

Scots struggling with council tax payments have been urged to seek support as new figures show that some people are facing debts of up to £5,000.

Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the free service, has seen a surge in the number of people asking for help.

It is expecting further rises as new annual bills arrive through letterboxes and in email inboxes across the country.

Between January and February, the organisation recorded a 132 per cent increase in council tax debt inquiries, along with a 257 per cent rise in the number of payment plans arranged for those in arrears. Debts ranged between £2,000 and £5,000.

Advice Direct Scotland is warning that due to the cost-of-living crisis, people are focusing more on essentials like food, housing, and energy, making it harder for them to pay their council tax.

Council tax arrears are considered a “priority debt“, meaning they should be dealt with first to avoid faster and more severe enforcement measures compared to commercial debt.

Councils can swiftly enforce debt collection measures, such as bank or wage arrestment, targeting people in arrears of just one month, including the possibility of seizing benefits, to recover owed payments.

Advice Direct Scotland stressed the need for anyone who has missed a payment to contact their council promptly, rather than waiting for the local authority to reach out to them, and ask to pay in smaller amounts.

It is also reminding people on low incomes to check if they are eligible for a reduction on their council tax bill and apply to their local authority.

Those worried about council tax and other debts can seek support from, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Specialist advisers are available to help anyone in Scotland assess their current situation, look at their income and outgoings, and consider what to do next.

This includes assessing that people are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to.
The free service can be contacted via the website or on 0808 196 2316.

John Baird, Head of Debt Services at Advice Direct Scotland, said:

John Baird, Head of Debt Services with Advice Direct Scotland's Comment on Council Tax Debt

“Even with a council tax freeze in place in most areas, we know that the cost-of-living crisis is far from over, and many households will be anxious about their bills.

“We have witnessed a growing demand for our services from individuals facing council tax arrears, and we anticipate more inquiries in the new financial year starting from April.

“While it’s understandable that people are prioritising essential costs like food, energy, and housing, leading them to potentially overlook their council tax payments, doing so carries genuine risks.

“The debt collection process for council tax is quicker and stricter than for commercial debts like credit cards, including actions such as freezing bank accounts, which may impact benefit payments.

“We encourage people to prioritise their council tax payments over other bills and to recognise it as an essential living cost.

“Nobody should struggle alone, and our specialist debt advisers can work with you to assess your current situation, look at your income and outgoings, and consider what to do next.

“Anyone who is worried about their ability to pay council tax or other bills, or who has received communication advising that action is being taken, should reach out to for advice, information, and support.”


General information about council tax is available here. includes a knowledge centre and live chat at www.moneyadvice.scotThe free service can also be contacted on 0808 196 2316 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. 

It provides free information and support on a wide range of debt-related issues and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Specialist debt advisers can work with people to assess their current situation, look at their income and outgoings, and consider what to do next. Approximately half a million people across Scotland are not claiming the financial support they are entitled to.

Free, impartial and practical advice is available to anyone in Scotland through Advice Direct Scotland’s service.

People can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 800 9060; and online, web chat and email at

Media Enquiries

Marc Roseblade - Head of Content, Media & Marketing

Marc Roseblade

Head of Content, Media and Marketing , Advice Direct Scotland
m: 07542 027083
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a: Mercantile Chambers, 39 ‑ 69 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, G2 6TS

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