Council Tax Protocol to help residents with debt

Wokingham Borough Council has signed up to an agreement with Citizens’ Advice Wokingham to help residents who have Council Tax debts.

The Council and Citizens Advice Wokingham will build on existing good practice such as regularly reviewing payment arrangements for residents, making them as flexible as possible, publishing local and national debt advice contact details, and working closely with partner advice agencies and local authorities to make sure that people are supported to pay off their debt.

Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing for the Conservative-led administration said: “This Council Tax Protocol will help us maintain our good Council Tax collection rates in a way that supports more vulnerable people and ensures there is support available from Citizens Advice for those who need it.

“We already work hard to make sure information about Council Tax is clear and easy to understand. We also offer flexible ways for people to pay. And this protocol will help us go further and build on good practice for the benefit of all residents."

The protocol will be kept under review to ensure it is providing support to residents in need without adversely affecting collection rates.

Jake Morrison, chief executive of Citizens Advice Wokingham, said: “Wokingham Borough Council adopting our Council Tax Protocol is good news for people who fall behind on their council tax, an issue we unfortunately anticipate seeing more of in the near future. This guidance will further help in Wokingham Borough struggling with their finances and prevent them from facing even more serious problems such as court action.

“We’ve worked in partnership with Wokingham Borough Council to develop these principles around council tax collection which will help families who are struggling to make ends meet, and to enable the council to recoup more of the tax they are owed.

“We already have a very good relationship through our Council Tax Arrears project and the council are very responsive, with good working relationships between our teams. It is great to see the close relationship being ratified though, by the willingness to take this one step further by signing up. We think it sends out a powerful message to local residents that we are working together to listen and help, with an element of early intervention and prevention.”