Medway Council is taking part in a new pilot scheme which aims to recover owed council tax directly from debtor’s earnings.
Medway is one of 29 local authorities taking part in HM Revenue and Customs’ trial, which is the first to use the debt information sharing powers introduced by the Digital Economy Act (2017).
The act allows councils to obtain employer and income information from HMRC for people who have failed to pay their council tax and have an order to pay from magistrates’ court.
Through the trial residents who are employed or have an income are being contacted to start paying off their debts, or they will have their debt deducted directly from their earnings through their employer.
The pilot allows councils to work with HMRC to share employment information – this will allow Medway Council to help manage and recover unpaid council tax, which could be used to improve services for residents.
Medway Council provides a range of options for residents who cannot afford to pay their council tax, depending on their individual circumstances. This includes ensuring they receive any reductions they may be entitled to, offering a revised payment plan or encouraging them to visit a debt advice agency for help and support. The council sends residents a number of reminder letters regarding owed council tax before enforcement action is taken. Residents who find themselves in a position where they cannot pay should contact the council directly to discuss their situation.
The pilot will last until March 2020 before being reviewed. A decision will then be made on whether to roll out the programme to all councils in England and Wales.
Council tax helps pay for services for residents across Medway
Cllr Rupert Turpin, Portfolio Holder for Business Management at Medway Council, said: “The majority of Medway residents pay their council tax on time each month which helps pay for services for residents across Medway. The pilot scheme targets the minority of people who continue to ignore our reminder letters and refuse to pay. We have a duty to all council tax payers to make sure everyone who is required to pay does so.”
Last year 96 per cent of council tax was collected within the financial year. More than 70,000 Medway residents pay by direct debit, find out more about payment options.