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Council Tax Debt: Exploring a Hidden 'Crisis', 2005-2006


Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this project investigated council tax debt. It established the extent of council tax debt, the relationship between income and property value, and the incidence of people with low incomes living in high value properties. The research made a major contribution to policy debate, particularly highlighting the impact of local tax on low wage households. The project was also of relevance to concerns about increasing personal indebtedness. The research featured significantly in the report of the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government and the findings attracted considerable media interest e.g. Daily Mail and BBC. Michael Orton was interviewed on the BBC Working Lunch programme and appeared as an expert witness before the Department for Communities and Local Government Committee Inquiry into Council Tax Benefit.

Research report

Orton, M. (2006) Struggling to pay council tax: A new perspective on the debate about local taxation, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Related IER research and publications - debt

The long-term impact of debt advice on low income households 

Collins, J. M. and Orton, M. (2010) ‘Comparing counseling foreclosure policies in the US and UK’ Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 12 (4) 417-438.

Orton, M. (2009) ‘Understanding the exercise of agency within structural inequality: the case of personal debt’ Social Policy and Society 8 (4) 487-498.

    Related IER research and publications – local taxation

    Local taxation, wealth and citizenship

    Orton, M. and Davies, R. (2009) ‘Exploring neglected dimensions of social policy: the Social Division of Welfare (SDW), fiscal welfare and the exemplar of local taxation in England’ Social Policy and Administration 43 (1) 35-53.

    Davies, R., Orton, M. and Bosworth, D. (2007) ‘Local taxation and the relationship between incomes and property values’ Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 25 (5) 756–772.

    Orton, M. (2006) ‘How to help people pay local tax: abolish council tax benefit?’ Benefits 14 (1) 19-25.

    Orton, M. (2005) ‘Inequality and the reform of a regressive local tax: the debate in the UK’ Social Policy and Society 4 (3) 255-272.

    Orton M. (2002) ‘Council Tax: who benefits?’ Benefits 10 (2) 110-115.


      IER Researcher:

      Michael Orton