Archive for September 17th, 2009

Collecting the council tax

The Council received some unfavourable press last week about our new procedures for dealing with people who don’t – for whatever reason – pay their council tax on time. So I would just like to clarify exactly what we are doing and why.

In a nutshell, we have decided that customers who default on their council tax should receive reminder notices whilst only 1 month in arrears as opposed to 2, as happens at the moment.

There were a couple of reasons for this decision. Firstly, we believe that this new regime is better for those customers who haven’t paid on time, because we are then able to make arrangements to help them sooner, hopefully preventing their arrears growing into many hundreds of pounds. The last thing I want to see is people going needlessly into debt with all the associated problems that causes.

Secondly, the council tax collection rate is central to the entire performance of the Council and if targets are not met, the impact is likely to be spending cuts or council tax increases. We have improved our performance steadily on this in recent years and the overall collection rate is now around 98%.

In fact, when problems arise, it is not usually with vulnerable customers who are unable to pay. Where complaints have been received, it is usually because customers have been used to paying very late in the month, and their instalments are due on the 1st of the month. Under the new system, they are now being picked up for reminders. Clearly, we have nothing to worry about with this group of people so we are making arrangements with them to carry on as before.

This is not about us picking on vulnerable customers – it is about trying to nip potential problems in the bud before they get out of hand and fundamentally, it is about fairness to the huge majority of people who pay their bills on time.

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September 2009
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