Residents who are struggling to keep up with their council tax payments have been urged to reach out for help.

Freedom of Information data obtained by the Leader shows that 6,838 households in Flintshire had a council tax debt outstanding as of April 11.

And as of March 31, the total debt owed to Flintshire Council for unpaid council tax came to £5,657,076.

A spokesman for the authority explained: "The council collected 97.4 per cent of council tax that was due for 2023/24 and we continue to be ranked as one of the highest performing councils in Wales when it comes to collecting both in-year council tax and longer term arrears.

"Flintshire is also ranked as having the second lowest amounts outstanding per chargeable dwelling when considering longer-term arrears. 

"This demonstrates that despite the cost-of-living crisis, households in Flintshire are continuing to prioritise payment of Council Tax to fund vital public services."

In February, politicians at Flintshire Council approved a council tax rise of nine per cent for residents.

It follows councillors hitting out at central government over reductions to the local authority's budget which have seen it lose out on £110m since 2008.

In January, Flintshire Council revealed it was facing a budget gap of £12.9m for 2024/25, with a range of cuts proposed to address the financial pressures.

However, officials later said that figure had increased to £14.5m due to an increased demand for temporary accommodation for homeless people and out of county placements for looked after children.

A council spokesman continued: "As well as maximising collections, the council tax service continues to transform the way it operates by making it easier for residents to pay their bills or apply for discounts. 

"Households in Flintshire can pay by weekly direct debits – one of few councils in Wales to offer such a flexible payment scheme.

"In the vast majority of cases, taxpayers continue to make payments of arrears over a longer term payment agreement.

"We also recognise that some households struggle to pay and would urge anyone who is finding it difficult to pay to always make early contact with the revenues service on 01352 704848 so that we can provide practical help and guidance."

A spokesman for Citizens Advice Flintshire said: "[We have] seen a 30% increase in the number of customers seeking advice about Council Tax arrears, compared to the previous financial year. 

"Many people are getting into debt and finding that accessing crisis support like food banks is the only way to get by.

"It’s crucial for residents who are struggling with paying their Council Tax to seek advice and support at an early stage. If someone is on a low income they may qualify for Council Tax Reduction which can reduce ongoing payments. 

"Some householders may also qualify for a discount if they are a single person or if someone in the household is a student or has a disability. We would encourage residents to contact the Citizens Advice “Claim What’s Yours” freephone number 0808 250 5700 to find out if they are entitled to any help with their Council Tax.

"If someone is consistently struggling with debts and meeting repayments then they should seek advice from a free/not-for-profit debt advice agency. 

"There are several agencies out there that offer free debt advice including the local Citizens Advice which is a charity that can provide specialist debt advice to discuss options available to you to deal with the debt crisis."