Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, responds to the report by Citizens Advice on council tax collection practices.
“Councils have a duty to their residents to collect taxes so important services, like caring for older and disabled people, protecting children, collecting bins and fixing roads are not affected. They strive to recover unpaid tax as sympathetically as possible and to provide support to households at risk of financial exclusion or hardship.
“As this helpful report makes clear, this needs to be supported by regulation, guidance and funding. Councils would also be in favour of it being made easier for them to recover money without having to go to the courts, and would support the removal of the requirement for the entire annual sum to become payable if an instalment is missed.
“Bailiffs should only ever be used as a last resort by councils. Before it gets to that stage, people will have been encouraged to apply for financial support by their council. Anyone having trouble paying their council bills should get in touch with their local authority for financial help and advice as soon as possible.”
Notes to editors
The LGA has worked closely with Citizens Advice on a protocol for councils using bailiffs when recovering debts. It includes the need for fair collection and enforcement policies and the ability for councils to take back cases involving vulnerable families.