Bid to stop council tax prison threat, welcomed by Welsh Conservatives

Welsh Conservatives have welcomed plans to remove the threat of a custodial sentence for the non-payment of council tax.

The plans are being brought forward by the Welsh Government, who say they want to abolish imprisonment as a sanction for non-payment of the tax.

At least 62 people from England and Wales were jailed in 2016/17 for non-payment – nearly a third of them from Wales.

Welsh Conservatives have welcomed the announcement, and urged the Welsh Labour Government to take steps to reduce the burden of council tax rises; with the average bill having risen by 201% since 1997.

Shadow Local Government Secretary, Janet Finch-Saunders, said:

“The criminalisation of debt is a cruel sanction – particularly for people in financial difficulty – so I would welcome a change to the law to end the threat of jail for people who cannot afford to pay council tax.

“But it’s not just about the sanctions for non-payment.

“The average council tax bill in Wales has trebled since 1997, placing a huge burden on hardworking families, and making the danger of debt more likely.

“Labour’s cuts to local authority budgets have directly contributed to rising council tax bills, and the Welsh Government should also be focusing on efforts to ensure that residents aren’t being asked to pay more, whilst increasingly being forced to accept less from their council.”