The council has a duty to ensure that all monies owed to the council (debts) are collected efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all council taxpayers. The importance of debt collection and recovery is reflected in the level of scrutiny of the council's performance which is monitored in a number of ways, including external assessment by the Audit Commission, internal audit reviews and monitoring against local and national performance indicators.
In striving to continually improve collection and recovery performance, the council recognises that some people do not pay their debts for a variety of reasons. This may include poverty or other financial hardship, which the council will endeavour to balance against its duty to collect. Conversely, the policy aims to take a robust approach to those who can pay but won't pay. The council also believes that its debt collection and recovery policy should be fair to everyone notwithstanding their age, race, gender, disability, sexuality or religious belief.
The need for people in debt to communicate their financial status is important. Where a person makes contact with us, their circumstances will be considered with a view to agreeing a reasonable payment arrangement (except in the case of statutory timescales), minimising recovery action and helping to alleviate hardship. Where people fail to make contact or maintain agreed arrangements, recovery action will continue. The council's corporate approach to recovery including how it prioritises debt outstanding. Where possible, best practice will be applied to all debt collection and recovery activities within appropriate legal powers.
Our key aims are as follows:
- To develop a council-wide approach towards sharing debtor information across collection teams and managing multiple debts owed to the council.
- To use cost effective and fair collection and recovery practices in the pursuance of all debts owed to the council, ensuring that those with the means to pay do pay.
- To ensure a professional, consistent and timely approach to recovery action across all of the council's functions.
- To consider fully the debtors' circumstances and ability to pay and so distinguish between the debtor who won't pay and the debtor who genuinely can't pay.
- To improve the levels of income collected by the council and reduce levels of arrears (debt).
- To ensure that debts are managed in accordance with legislative provisions and best practice.
- To treat individuals consistently and fairly regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity, in line with the Equality Act 2010, as well as ensuring that individual's rights under Data Protection and Human Rights legislation are protected.