A TOTAL of £3.3million is owed by Basingstoke residents in unpaid council tax.

Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is owed the huge sum, which was outstanding as of March 31, 2016.

The statistics have prompted a national debt charity to warn that many residents are not receiving the free advice they need to deal with council tax and other debts.

National Debtline, the free advice service run by the Money Advice Trust, said the fact that so much council tax debt is still outstanding is a sign that more residents in Basingstoke and Deane would benefit from help in tackling their financial problems.

The warning comes as residents are paying more council tax than in previous years.

In April, council tax bills for residents in Basingstoke and Deane rose by more than three per cent.

National Debtline receives around 90 calls each year from residents in Basingstoke and Deane seeking advice on how to resolve their debt problems, and expects that this number could increase – with higher council tax bills adding to the pressure for many households with already stretched budgets.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “The level of unpaid council tax in Basingstoke and Deane remains a concern. With people in the area now paying 3.52 per cent more in council tax than they were this time last year, there is a risk that residents who are already behind will find it even more difficult to resolve their financial difficulty.”

The council’s cabinet member for finance, service delivery and improvement Councillor Robert Tate, said: “Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council actually collected over 98 per cent of the money owed in council tax last year.

“We appreciate that people’s circumstances change and along with offering a variety ways to pay, including instalments, to help people that may be struggling we also urge residents to contact us as soon as they are unable to pay their council tax so that we can offer support and advice before it becomes a bigger issue. Enforcement action or even involving the court is always a last resort.”

National Debtline offers free, independent and confidential advice 24 hours a day online at www.nationaldebtline.org