THOUSANDS of people went into the red with their council tax payments last year increasing the overall amount owed to Braintree council to almost £1.5 million.

There were 37,041 people in arrears with their council tax, an increase of 7036 compared with the previous 12 months.

Welfare reforms introduced in 2013 meant some people on benefits and very low incomes had to pay the charge for the first time.

Paul Hart, Citizens Advice Bureau district manager, said: “People who have never paid council tax suddenly are required to and for some of them they just haven’t got it.

“It’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

See this week's Times for the full story.