As households across the country receive their new, higher council tax bills, experts have warned of the potential repercussions of falling behind on payments.

Nearly all local authorities overseeing social care in England are preparing to raise council tax by the maximum amount of 4.99 per cent in April.

According to findings by the County Councils Network (CCN), among the 136 county and unitary local authorities in England that have disclosed their budget proposals, a staggering 95% intend to raise council tax by the maximum allowable percentage.

Recent stories have highlighted the pressures many are facing, with the looming threat of council tax arrears potentially pushing households to the brink.

Maxine McCreadie, personal finance expert at Creditfix, said: "It's important to recognise that cutting back on council tax payments may seem like a temporary solution, but it can result in long-lasting consequences."

“When people are looking at their debts, they may think that stopping paying their council tax can help alleviate some of their outgoings, but it's probably the worst thing you could stop paying.

“It's crucial for people facing money struggles to recognise that cutting back on council tax payments may seem like a temporary solution, but it can result in long-lasting consequences.

“This all sounds very daunting, but it’s important to note that there is support out there if you can’t afford to pay.

“If you’re in arrears or concerned about your ability to meet future payments, inform your local council as soon as possible and they may agree to a different repayment plan or spread payments over 12 months, rather than 10.”

You can see how much council tax is increasing in your area, and elsewhere across the UK, with this interactive map.

Here are five key points to consider when dealing with council tax debt:

Two Warnings

If you don’t pay council tax, your local council will typically give you the benefit of the doubt. They will send a reminder giving you seven days to make the missed payment. Councils only send a maximum of two reminder notices in a financial year, so if you have another late or missed payment, you will be sent a final notice ordering you to pay the whole year’s council tax within seven days.

Bailiff Involvement

Non-payment of council tax can lead to the involvement of bailiffs, who may visit individuals' homes to recover the outstanding amounts. This can be an intimidating and distressing experience, exacerbating the emotional toll on those already facing financial challenges.

Increased Debt

Unpaid council tax doesn't simply disappear. In fact, local authorities may pursue legal action to recover the outstanding amounts for six years, leading to increased debt through additional court fees and interest charges.

Negative Impact on Credit Scores

Defaulting on council tax payments can have long-lasting effects on individuals' credit scores, making it difficult to secure loans or credit in the future.

Potential Court Proceedings

Persistent non-payment may escalate to court proceedings, adding legal expenses to the mounting financial burden and potentially resulting in more severe consequences. In very extreme cases, it could even result in prison.

Maxine added: "I’d urge anyone facing financial difficulties to proactively address their council tax obligations and explore available support options. Seeking assistance from local authorities or financial and debt advisors can provide valuable insights and potential solutions to avoid falling behind on payments."