Council tax debt collection faces reform

11 Apr 19

The government has pledged to protect people in council tax arrears from aggressive debt collectors.

Local government minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to engage with charities and debt advice bodies to create a “fairer” collection system.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announcement said reforms could include taking individual circumstances into account to give people the necessary time to pay off arrears, improving links between councils and the debt advice sector, and supporting fairer debt intervention methods.

MHCLG highlighted the need to protect people against “aggressive debt enforcement”.

Sunak said: “Council tax collection is essential to running public services, like caring for those most at risk, collecting bins, and keeping our transport networks running.

“The experiences of some innovative councils show that council tax collection rates can be improved without resorting to the unfair treatment of vulnerable people.

“That’s why I’m pushing forward work to make the council tax collection system fairer and more efficient – so people are treated with compassion while services get the funds they need.”

Every year councils issue nearly 24 million council tax bills to help fund key local services and uncollected tax means less money for services and higher bills for residents who do pay on time, MHCLG said.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, director and debt advice expert at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “One third of people seeking debt advice have council tax arrears, so it’s really important that people receive the right guidance and support to manage their finances.

“We look forward to working with the department to help them create a more progressive and efficient council tax debt collection system.”

Read Victor Smart’s feature for PF on outdated debt collection practices.

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