"Councils understand the pressures people on low incomes are under and will support people who are in financial difficulty wherever possible."
Responding to Christians Against Poverty’s report on council debt collection, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said:
“Councils understand the pressures people on low incomes are under and will support people who are in financial difficulty wherever possible. Councils look to take steps to make sure that people in financial difficulty are supported, whether that’s through signposting to free debt advice, or through the joint Council Tax Protocol, which the LGA has developed alongside Citizens Advice to support those who are struggling.
“Councils only ever undertake debt collection as a last resort. Before this, people will have been encouraged to apply for monetary support and efforts will have been made to either attach the debt to a salary or arrange new payment plans.
“No council wants to have to debt collect from its residents, particularly from people on low incomes, but local authorities have a duty to their residents to collect taxes which fund essential services, such as protecting vulnerable children, caring for the elderly, collecting bins, and keeping roads maintained. With councils facing a funding shortfall of almost £8 billion by 2025, it’s essential that vital services are protected and that these funds are collected.
“Anyone who is having trouble paying their council tax or bills should contact their local authority as soon as possible, for financial help and advice, and to discuss the options available.”