ALMOST 600,000 families on low incomes are facing above-average council tax rises for the second year in a row, a York charity has claimed.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said 490,000 families who are already struggling financially and paid no council tax before last April will now be paying more than £200 a year, while, from this week, another 70,000 poor households will have to foot bills for the first time, costing them £114 a year on average.

The JRF said this flew in the face of the Government's "determination" to limit general council tax rises for 2014/15 to two per cent, meaning the average Band D householder has seen their council tax increase by £12.

The findings emerged in a New Policy Institute report for the charity following last year's abolition of council tax benefit and the introduction of council tax support.

Chris Goulden, JRF's head of poverty research, said: “This change to the welfare system is largely below the radar, but has significant impact for families already struggling to get by on a low income - paying this tax increase will be beyond most, pushing them into deeper hardship.”

The research said 6,600 households in York may have been affected by the changes, with the average claimant losing £260.71 a year.