Council Tax Protocol
Citizens Advice welcomes support for people in Council Tax arrears
Citizens Advice Rushmoor has welcomed Rushmoor Borough Council’s commitment to improve how it collects council tax from people struggling to keep up with their bills.
The council announced that it has signed up to Citizens Advice’s Council Tax Collection Protocol, which aims to prevent people struggling with bill payments from getting further into debt.
Figures show that 284 people came to Citizens Advice Rushmoor for help with council tax issues in the last year alone.
The charity’s work to design the guidance follows its research showing how councils’ handling of council tax arrears can push people further into debt. A study carried out by national Citizens Advice last year found that over two thirds (69%) of those in council tax arrears found it harder to clear their debts as a result of the council’s actions. Most (71%) had extra charges added to their bills while half (48%) had been visited by bailiffs.
The new guidance means Rushmoor Borough Council will look to work with people as soon as they start falling behind on their council tax, and support them to address the issue. This can help stop residents reaching ‘crisis point’ such as homelessness or unmanageable debt. As well as being harmful to the individual, these problems put a strain on council services. By setting up realistic repayment plans councils can ensure that outstanding debts are more likely to be repaid.
This guidance could help the hundreds of people in Rushmoor Borough Council struggling with their finances and prevent them from facing even more serious problems such as court action.
Alex Hughes, Chief Officer