THE number of people seeking help for council tax arrears in Barnsley has increased by 71 per cent in three years.

Figures released by the Citizens' Advice Bureau show in 2011/12 it was contacted by 877 households for help with council tax issues.

In 2012/13 this jumped by 35 per cent to 1,182 households, peaking at 1,504 in 2013/14.

Pat Heath, the chief executive of the advice service, now based at Wellington House, said one reason was the changes to council tax benefit, introduced as part of the government's welfare reforms in April 2013.

It means some households now receive less council tax support because of a ten per cent reduction in funding nationally.

"It shows people are having a really hard time in the community and the need for advice is as great as ever amongst advice agencies," Mr Heath added.

He said CAB has an agreement with Barnsley Council's benefits and taxation department that those who do seek help from the advice service can negotiate a way of paying their arrears in order to avoid expensive court action.