Working with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), councils across England and Wales have chosen to pilot a scheme that will help local authorities recover unpaid Council Tax - currently amounting to around £3 billion as at 31 March 2018, from the introduction of council tax in 1993.
Through the trial, non-paying customers who are employed or have an income will be contacted to start paying their debts, or they will have their debt deducted directly from their earnings through their employer.
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 by the local magistrates’ court.
The pilot will see councils working with HMRC to share employment information. This allows those taking part in the pilot, including Ealing Council, to help manage and recover unpaid Council Tax, which is then used to improve services to residents.
Ealing Council already works closely with debt advice providers to support vulnerable residents who are struggling with debt. If you are struggling and would like advice contact Stepchange on 0800 1361111.
Anybody who finds themselves in a position where they cannot pay their Council Tax should contact the council immediately to discuss their situation.
The pilot will last one year before being reviewed, with a decision as to whether to roll out the programme to all councils in England and Wales.
In order to provide transparency about what data is being shared each pilot is registered on www.gov.uk.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing cabinet member for finance and leisure said: “Council tax pays for key vital services that support the most vulnerable in our borough and it is grossly unfair that the minority of residents who do not pay their council tax, benefit from the majority that do pay.
“Ealing is facing government cuts that mean that for every pound the council used to receive in government grants, it now gets a mere 36p. This scheme will allow us to directly target those that do not pay, ensuring they contribute to the services everyone in the borough receives.
“I strongly urge those that genuinely struggle to pay their council tax to contact the council or independent debt advice services before the debt becomes unmanageable.”
More information on the pilot and debt advice is available.