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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 04:17 GMT 05:17 UK
Council tax 'a struggle' for 2m
A council tax form
The government review on council tax will report in December
More than two million households are struggling to keep up with council tax bills, a study has concluded.

People on low incomes are particularly badly hit as a larger percentage of their earnings is spent on payments, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said.

It said many found it complicated to claim council tax benefits.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said ministers have used capping powers to protect people from excessive rises.

"Government has made substantial investments in local government that allows authorities to provide high standards of service while keeping down council tax increases," he said.

A government review into council tax is due to report in December.

'Vulnerable' households

The JRF's estimates are based on the number of summonses for non-payment each year.

I can't help but notice the massive dent council tax takes out of my bank balance
Mark E, Slough

It said low income was often cited as the main reason for non-payment of council tax.

"Despite having a job, the struggle to pay council tax is part of the day-to-day difficulty of making ends meet for many people," the report's author Michael Orton said.

"Low income creates vulnerability to missing payments and repaying arrears."

The study said council tax comprised almost 5% of gross income for the bottom fifth of households, compared with 1.7% of income for those in the top fifth of earners.

It suggested the proportion of tax levied on each valuation band should be revised.

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