Bailiffs for coun­cil tax

The Wokingham Paper - - NEWS -

THE USE of bailiffs to col­lect coun­cil tax ar­rears was queried by a mem­ber of the pub­lic.

Ann Dally wanted to know why they­were be­ing used when other routes, such as lo­cal debt ad­vice or­gan­i­sa­tions, yielded more re­sults.

“Has the Coun­cil been in con­tact with other Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties ... in or­der to un­der­stand their ex­pe­ri­ences and how they have ben­e­fited from this?” she asked.

Re­ply­ing, Cllr John Kaiser, the ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for fi­nance and hous­ing, said that the coun­cil’s in­come ser­vice did com­mu­ni­cate with other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, and that best prac­tise syn­er­gies were used.

“I can con­firm we have ro­bust pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures based on meet­ing Coun­cil Tax leg­is­la­tion,” he said. “Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil works 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 ac­tion.”

He added: “What does need to be con­sid­ered is the less we col­lect in Coun­cil Tax the big­ger im­pact it will have on our lo­cal ser­vices and bud­gets.”

Ms Dally said that she was pleaded to hear that the coun­cil wanted to re­duce cus­tomer stress, but she wanted to know if the coun­cil was aware of the link be­tween in­debt­ed­ness and men­tal health.

Cllr Kaiser replied: “Yes we are – it will be taken fully into con­sid­er­a­tion”.

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