Council Tax bills are rarely welcome in any household…
…but in a household that is struggling financially due to the impact of coronavirus, a Council Tax bill is the last thing that’s needed.
However cash strapped people are right now though, and however thinly they’re going to need to spread their butter in the coming months and years, Council Tax will still need to be paid, and Councils will still do everything they can to collect it.
There is real concern right now from charities like Step Change, Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Trust, that families up and down the country are heading for a ‘cliff edge’ with bills and arrears building up like never before.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that these charities welcomed the suspension of evictions and bailiff now known as Certificated Enforcement Agent, visits over the last 3 months.
This period of time will have helped many, but the charities think that as many as 2 million households could be in serious trouble with their Council Tax.
The pursuit of Council Tax, from Councils who are themselves recovering from coronavirus shortfalls, is expected to be swift and the charities are worried that this could lead to what it describes as ‘heavy handed’ tactics.
The use of collection companies like ours, with the associated fees that come with that arrangement, is something that Councils do frequently in the recovery of Council Tax.
‘Heavy handed’ is not how we operate, and no company worth their salt should do so either, but bailiff visits are indeed likely to increase if Councils decide to go down this route.
What else could they do?
Well, the charities say that Councils should look at organising payment plans with people, before calling in the debt collectors.
This is a good idea, and could help lots of people in tricky situations.
The term of a debt could be extended to over a year as well, which would be another way of softening the blow.
Councils could make it so that people weren’t made liable for the full year’s amount of Council Tax, simply for missing one monthly payment, or they could allow the first two months of the year to be missed, instead of the last two.
Aggressive enforcement won’t help anyone after all this is done with, and whilst we will always do our job, driving vulnerable people into even more vulnerable situations is not what we’re about.
We have to work together here, from the top down, and the sooner the Government put measures into place that determine what Councils can and can’t do, the sooner the millions of families worried about their Council Tax bills can sleep a bit easier.
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