1. ITV Report

ITV Investigation reveals local authorities owed £116 million in unpaid council tax as people struggle to make ends meet

Doing the sums: charity workers say they have been inundated with people asking them for help Photo: ITV

Councils across the region, already struggling because of budget cuts, are facing a multi-million pound shortfall because of the growing number of people unable to pay their council tax.

Freedom of Information requests sent to almost every local authority in the ITV Tyne Tees and Border region revealed that there is a £116 million shortfall.

Almost a third of that (£35.8 million) is from the past financial year.

Here's a breakdown of what is owed to North East councils who responded to our FOI requests

Charities say their phones are ringing off the hook with people in need of help Credit: ITV

Charities say the current economic climate is driving more people into poverty and putting a huge demand on their service. Bills such as council tax are often the ones that tip people over the edge.

Natalie Joyce has sought the services of County Durham charity SHAID. Like many others she works for a company that is in administration, her wages aren't always paid on time and when they are it's often less than she was expecting. It's left her in debt and her council tax arrears are mounting.

It's basically my rent that is the most. I'm in a lot of arrears and if I don't get that paid off I don't know what will happen. I may not have anywhere to live

– Natalie Joyce
Counting the cost: Charity worker Jill Wheatley helps a client with debt problems Credit: ITV

Charities like Christians Against Poverty say the problem will only get worse. They help people by managing their budgets, helping them sort their finances and get their lives back on track.

Watch Kenny Toal's full investigation here: