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Council Tax Collection

Comment 2nd July 2010

Councils have been given far too many powers over the collection of Council Tax. Council Tax is an unfair tax because of the amount that is required by councils when families are already struggling throughout the UK. Far too often people fall behind and end up with council tax bailiffs knocking at the door or get threatening letters from the council. 

Council Tax bailiffs are known to be some of the most threatening and agressive in the country. 

I would like to see an end to councils being able to sub contract collection of council tax debt out to companies that already have a bad name as bailiffs. It is rediculous to expect someone to have money to pay council tax debt when they simply do not have any money to pay in the first place. And it is totally wrong that a council tax bailiff is allowed to take away possessions for sale – even though they probably dump them anyway. 

I would like to see Councils have the power taken away from them to use sub contracted bailiffs. Where people owe Council Tax, then a more formal arrangement and realistic figure should be agreed to pay. I understand this happens already, but councils often ask for unrealistic figures to be paid which push families further into a black hole. In some cases pushing families into poverty and neglect.

Half of the problem why people end up in council tax debt black holes is because they are simply frightened of what might happen to them if they don't catch up on payments. If councils started to communicate better, get officers that are friendly and understanding on the ground collecting arrears then they may find it far easier to agree realistic figures.

At the moment council officers are allowed to hide behind a smokescreen and use staff to collect payments which are often inexperienced and make mistakes. The staff can also be very aggressive and demand rediculous payment schedules while threatening bailiffs. And worst of all there is no face to these people so no-one really knows who they're paying.

Council Officers should do they're own collections on foot, not from an office where they use staff. 

Why does this matter?

By getting rid of council tax collection staff and sub contracted bailiffs the country would save a huge amount of money. Sub Contracted Council Tax Bailiffs charge fees for their services which I would think are extortionate towards councils. And collection staff all need paying a wage even though they are inexperienced.

If there was less staff and bailiffs replaced by officers collecting realistic figures on foot, then there would be less people to pay a wage and it would force councils to interact more with the people they are collecting council tax from. They would get a far better understanding of what is really going on in their ward by doing this instead of making decisions just because they can from an office. 

And where there's poverty, they would get an understanding of why families are struggling. It might tap into the more sensitive side of their human behaviour instead of using their more aggressive side.

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