Problems with paying Council tax? John Kaiser explains some of the help available

Question
As Councillors may be aware, robust evidence is emerging that the use of bailiffs to collect CT arrears produces less revenue than other methods, such as signposting residents to local debt advice organisations. Has the Council been in contact with other Local Authorities for example Basingstoke and Deane, and Rushmoor, who have signed the LGA/CA CTP 

Answer
The Income service communicates regularly with other Local Authorities to discuss working practices. Each Local Authority adopts its own strategies and principles when it comes to collection of Council Tax arrears.
However, there are ‘best practice’ synergies in respect of recovery action such as:

    Deferring payment plans

    Close working relationships with voluntary and charitable sectors

    Reviewing customers affordability to instalment plans

    Working with the vulnerable and/or those in financial difficulty to ensure affordability

    Debt advice agencies used where it is seen that customers have multiple debts, it is a positive that these independent of the Council

    Being honest and transparent about next steps in debt recovery, customer centred approaches

This practices will hold Wokingham Borough Council in good stead as we come out of Covid. I can confirm we have robust processes and procedures based on meeting Council Tax legislation. Wokingham Borough Council work with those in arrears to agree affordable and sustainable repayment plans, taking into account personal circumstances.   The notices sent about Council Tax are in plain English and they clearly explain the collection process. We encourage customers to seek debt advice if they are experiencing financial difficultly.   Over the last year the Service Manager has introduced ‘surgery’ days (every two months or so) where customers can come and talk to staff from Wokingham Borough Council and the Wokingham Citizens Advice to prevent unnecessary