Money Advice Service launches guidance for more progressive approach to the recovery of Council Tax

Phoenix’s ethical approach to affordability features as a case study in the Money Advice Service’s new strategic guidance document for progressive Council Tax recovery.

On Tuesday 4th December the Money Advice Service (MAS) launched new guidance which will assist Local Authorities to take a more progressive approach to the recovery of Council Tax, encouraging improved resident engagement, fairer outcomes and sustainable arrears repayments.

The Supportive Council Tax Recovery toolkit will encourage best practice support for those with council tax debts, through greater collaboration between Local Authority revenue teams and the debt advice sector when recovering these debts.

The toolkit is modelled on more progressive approaches to council tax recovery already being employed by 10 councils, and the aim is to encourage the adoption of these best practice methods across all 348 Local Authorities in England and Wales. Their best practice approach has proven that a collaborative approach with debt advice agencies tend to collect a high percentage of monies owed, as well as supporting better outcomes for residents.

One of MAS’s eight key steps towards better support of residents in financial difficulty is the support of affordability assessments based on the Standard Financial Statement (SFS) spending guidelines. Phoenix were the first enforcement company to adopt the SFS, and work with Policy in Practice to extend its capabilities through our online affordability assessment tool.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Head of Debt Advice from the Money Advice Service, commented: "We are delighted to launch this resource as part of our ongoing commitment to enable more consistent creditor support for people in financial difficulty. A third of debt advice seekers have a Council Tax debt so this guidance is a timely intervention. We hope to shine a light on good practices that can be adopted across all councils to ensure more take a progressive approach that supports residents and helps them to maintain ongoing commitments.”

Carole Kenney, Phoenix's Customer Service and Performance Delivery Director added: “Phoenix were delighted to share our affordability assessment tool and advice sector referral policy with the Money Advice Service and fully support this new guidance which shines a light on exemplary collections processes within the local authority recovery and enforcement sector.  Not only do the 8 steps illustrate best practice in collections but the case studies clearly demonstrate that best practice delivers increased revenue recovery which has been our finding at Phoenix at the latter end of the collection cycle.”

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