East Renfrewshire has one of the highest rates of council tax collection in Scotland, according to new figures.

Official data shows that East Renfrewshire Council failed to collect just 3.6% of payments in 2020/21.

Only five other councils in Scotland had a better record, with Stirling topping the list as it only failed to collect 2.9% of payments, followed by Shetland (3%), Angus (3.1%), East Dunbartonshire (3.3%) and Perth and Kinross (3.4%).

However, across Scotland as a whole, the council tax debt mountain has risen to record levels, increasing sharply by nearly 50% in a year as concerns grow of a credit crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.

The amount of council tax that remained outstanding was almost £140million on March 31 last year.

It is thought the economic effects of the Covid pandemic, as councils limited debt recovery processes to avoid contributing to financial pressure on residents, are partly responsible for the record total.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) fears council tax debt could grow even further this year as the economic effects of furlough ending, rising prices in the shops, reductions to Universal Credit and soaring energy prices hit hard.

It has said financial worries mean more people face extreme pressure on household decision-making around which bills to pay, including council tax.

CAS is urging people to make use of the Scottish Government’s council tax reduction scheme, which can help to reduce future payments.

Myles Fitt, CAS financial health spokesperson, said: “The combination of rising energy bills, the impact on incomes from the end of furlough and the £20 weekly reduction in Universal Credit has created a perfect financial storm for households who were already experiencing money problems or just managing to get by.”

The Scottish Government has said council tax plays a “vital” role in funding local public services.

A spokesman added: “Councils have a range of actions they can choose to take if someone is unable to pay their council tax. These include discussing and agreeing payment plans.

“The Council Tax Reduction Scheme exists to prevent people falling into council tax debt. People having difficulty in meeting their council tax payments should contact their local authority to see if they are eligible for a reduction, which can be backdated by up to six months.

“Enforcement action is also available to councils, including legal action when a household has chosen not to pay the tax it owes.”