Welfare

23.11.17

London council to launch ‘ethical debt collection’ for residents

Hammersmith and Fulham Council (H & F) have launched “ethical debt collections” service in a bid to reduce costs to residents.

The council are working with a private firm on the joint venture, setting out to both improve the way debtors are treated and save money on the cost of bailiffs.

The move is part of an effort to change the way public sector debts are handled, applying Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) standards in the same way as private debts.

“Heavy handed debt collection in the public sector is counter-productive. Court action, bailiffs and lawyers all cost money, and can create high levels of stress and anxiety in families that find themselves in debt,” commented Cllr Max Schmid, H&F cabinet member for finance.

“We are determined to offer an ethical approach to debt management that both helps residents at risk of falling into debt and saves money for taxpayers at a time of massive funding cuts from central government.”

From 1 April 2018, H & F will aim to ask only for what debtors can afford, based on expenditure assessments which will be agreed over a set period.

However, the council says the scheme “is not going to allow anyone who should be paying their taxes to avoid doing so”, with those who can afford to pay but refuse to do so being pursued through “more effective, and more ethical, legal means”.

The joint venture has already started taking over collections in the borough, beginning with former tenant arrears and housing benefit overpayments, while other types of debt will soon be phased in.

Cllr Schmid said there was a huge gulf in practices of debt collection between the private and public sector but that the council wanted to change that.

He added: “The consequences of poor debt collection practices put a strain on our council budgets as well as those across the public sector and can be devastating to the wellbeing of families affected.

“In addition, costs of temporary accommodation, increased demand on temporary housing, social services and education services, affects physical and mental healthcare – can all result from heavy-handed use of bailiffs, putting a strain on the public purse.”

Top image: PhotoLondonUK

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

TSSA welcomes vote backing HS2 phase 2

17/07/2019TSSA welcomes vote backing HS2 phase 2

The general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) has described the decision by MPs to approve the second stage of the H... more >
County council approves £153m link road amid climate change protests

16/07/2019County council approves £153m link road amid climate change protests

Norwich county councillors have formally approved a new link road for the Norwich bypass, despite the environmental group Extinction Rebellion st... more >
Lewisham Council appoint new chief executive from Hackney Council

15/07/2019Lewisham Council appoint new chief executive from Hackney Council

Lewisham LBC is set to appoint Kim Wright, currently a group director at Hackney Council, as its new chief executive. Wright will take up th... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open — and this needs to happen as soon as po... more > more last word articles >
TSSA welcomes vote backing HS2 phase 2

17/07/2019TSSA welcomes vote backing HS2 phase 2

The general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) has described the decision by MPs to approve the second stage of the High Speed Two (HS2) as “wise and welcome&rdq... more >
County council approves £153m link road amid climate change protests

16/07/2019County council approves £153m link road amid climate change protests

Norwich county councillors have formally approved a new link road for the Norwich bypass, despite the environmental group Extinction Rebellion staging protests on the steps of the County Hall. ... more >

the raven's daily blog

New rules to change the future of Social Value

05/06/2019New rules to change the future of Social Value

The government has announced the introduction of new rules to change the future of social value and make the way housing developers stump up the money for infrastructure both simpler and more transparent. These regulatory changes are designed to help achieve its ambition to deliver 300,000 extra homes per year by the mid-2020s.  ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues that community-led initiatives are a productive way of helping to solve... more >
Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

19/06/2019Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

Aberdeen City Council’s hydrogen spokesperson, councillor Philip Bell, highlights the Granite City’s determination to play a leading ... more >
A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service... more >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

public sector focus

View all News