There are a number of themed areas for which the Council has responsibility, and each of these is likely to generate debts of a specific type:

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1 Wiltshire Cuncil Crprate Debt Recvery Plicy: WILTSHIRE COUNCIL CORPORATE DEBT RECOVERY POLICY 1. Intrductin The Cuncil raises a significant prprtin f its ttal incmes thrugh lcal taxes and charges, and it is essential that every effrt is made t recver all amunts due t it. The Cuncil will always seek t recver mnies utstanding in respect f debts wed thrugh the use f the mst cst effective and efficient methds, and will attempt t recver amunts due as quickly as is practicably pssible in rder t minimise the risk t the reputatin f the Cuncil and it s financial well being and avid the ptential fr bad debts. Hwever, the Cuncil als has wide ranging scial respnsibilities. It is nt pssible t have ne standard apprach fr the recvery f all types f debt, and specific arrangements are required t ensure that all client grups are dealt with fairly and apprpriately. In sme cases mre than ne debt may be wed t the cuncil by an individual r a number f individuals within a husehld. This plicy sets ut hw the cuncil will apprach debt recvery, having regard t minimise arrears and at the same time nt cause undue hardship r cnsequences t the debtr as a result f the verall apprach t a multiple debt. The plicy sets ut the way in which the cuncil priritises ne debt ver anther. 2. Categries f debt There are a number f themed areas fr which the Cuncil has respnsibility, and each f these is likely t generate debts f a specific type: Cuncil tax Business rates (NNDR) Husing benefit (verpayments) Cuncil Huse rents Service charges Recharged csts fr repairs t cuncil husing Leases Adult scial care Hmelessness (cst recvery) Rents fr temprary accmmdatin Care cnnect charges Husing related supprt 1

2 Wiltshire Cuncil Crprate Debt Recvery Plicy: Car park incmes and fines Leisure and cultural service incmes Library services Educatin (schls and adult educatin) Trade waste Passenger services Licensing fees Leases n mbile hme parks and gypsy and traveller sites Prperty lettings Other miscellaneus debts Clearly each f these services have specific characteristics, and incmes generated thrugh their prvisin may arise frm either statutry r discretinary pwers. Advice will be taken frm the departments raising each specific type f debt, where apprpriate. The apprach t debt recvery als differs and fr cuncil tax and nndmestic rate recvery and rent arrears the prcess is determined by statute. Furthermre debt types are als clearly differentiated by ther factrs such as the Cuncil s scial respnsibilities twards the vulnerable r disadvantaged grups; and s this guidance has been develped t ensure that all staff invlved in recvery actin have clearly defined prcedures t fllw fr each debt type. The guidance utlines prcedures and anticipated recvery cycles t ensure that a cnsistent apprach t debt recvery is taken acrss the Cuncil s area f peratin. It is als designed t prvide a clear framewrk fr recvery staff, and infrmatin t bth debtrs, and t any advisry agencies acting n their behalf. 3. Initial recvery As stated abve, the Cuncil has a number f varying themed incme streams and the debt recvery prcess is different fr each. Each is subject t its wn plicies and guidelines set ut in ther dcuments, hwever, as a general guide the miscellaneus (nn-statutry) incme streams will fllw time lines set ut belw: The first reminder will be issued 30 days after the invice. A final ntice warning f curt actin will be issued after a further 14 days have elapsed. Accunts Receivable will then seek clarificatin frm the initiating department whether there are valid reasns fr nn escalatin f recvery actin, requiring a respnse within 14 days. Cntact may be made by telephne If there are n valid reasns fr nn payment, escalatin t legal prceedings will then cmmence 2

3 Wiltshire Cuncil Crprate Debt Recvery Plicy: Recvery actin shuld nly be escalated where it is reasnable fr the Cuncil t take such actin, as levying additinal unnecessary csts upn debtrs wh have limited means ptentially increases the financial pressure n thse wh can least affrd it. 4. Methds f payment The Cuncil will always seek t minimise the csts assciated with cllectin but the fllwing methds f payments are acceptable in mst circumstances (see nte 1): Direct debit Bank standing rder BACS Cheque Cash Pstal Orders Credit cards Debit Cards Internet Banking Autmated telephne payments Nte 1: Payments will nt be accepted fr debts that are due t be cnsidered by a Magistrates Curt n the day f a hearing, unless agreed with the Cuncil in advance. Nte 2: Nt all methds f payment are available in all circumstances. 5. Other cnsideratins The Cuncil may in cases f financial hardship, agree t special arrangements fr payment f debts wed. All amunts due t the Cuncil frm an individual debtr shuld be cnsidered, and clse wrking between all Cuncil services is imperative. This liaisn, thrugh a Debt Management Assessment Grup, cnsisting f representatives frm each service respnsible fr raising charges shuld then ensure that the reasnable welfare interests f the debtr are safeguarded as well as thse f the Cuncil. Any arrangement whereby payment arrangements are negtiated with a debtr shuld be bth in the interests f the Cuncil, and affrdable and sustainable fr the persn r persns invlved. 3

4 Wiltshire Cuncil Crprate Debt Recvery Plicy: The Cuncil encurages its recvery staff t exercise a degree f flexibility in their apprach t debt recvery t help reduce the need fr escalated recvery actin, and fr the ptential levying f unnecessary additinal csts n the debtr cncerned. The pririty shuld be t establish and maintain a regular schedule f repayments, which will reduce the amunt utstanding, and als help t maintain the Cuncil s recvery and cllectin rates. The Cuncil s Debt Management Assessment Grup will cmprise f representatives, frm Husing, Revenues and Benefits and, Accunts Receivable (AR). 6. The Cuncil s apprach t debt recvery The Cuncil s plicy twards the cllectin and recvery f amunts due will at all times ensure: that it is fair and cnsistent; that staff are curteus and prfessinal in their apprach and dealings with debtrs; the maximisatin f incmes received, and f cllectin and recvery rates; that during the billing and recvery prcess all legislative requirements and Cuncil plicies are fully cmplied with; that accurate invices, bills and ntices f rent are issued prmptly, and that full accunt is taken f any reliefs that may be applicable; that all accunts clearly detail payment terms; that sympathetic advice is ffered t members f the public r businesses wh may be experiencing difficulties in meeting their financial bligatins t the Cuncil; that debtrs wh can demnstrate genuine financial hardship are prvided with an pprtunity t agree alternative affrdable payment terms; that in the event f a default in payment prmpt actin t identify and assist debtrs wh may be in financial difficulty; that advice and infrmatin are prvided t debtrs at every stage f the recvery prcess; 4

5 Wiltshire Cuncil Crprate Debt Recvery Plicy: that advice is made available in respect f available supprt e.g. Credit Unins and the Citizens Advice Bureau; that advice is made available in respect f benefits and/r ther surces f financial assistance that may be available, and that individuals are encuraged t seek and take-up such supprt as they are entitled t. Fr the purpse f prviding gd custmer service and apprpriate respnses t debt the cuncil will endeavur, thrugh the Debt Management Panel t gather and prfile infrmatin abut custmers and thse wh fall due t pay charges t the cuncil. This infrmatin will include details f hw they prefer t access services, e.g. phne, letter internet; any relevant infrmatin abut persnal circumstances such as disability, need t invlve a supprt wrker r family member. This infrmatin may then be shared with cuncil staff invlved in debt cllectin t ensure that the debtr is dealt with in an apprpriate way, receives the right supprt and the right apprach. This will be particularly imprtant in safeguarding the mst vulnerable peple. 7. Prcess and prcedures The Cuncil s debt recvery prcedures will incrprate the fllwing essential principles: they must be effective and ensure that debtrs fulfil their bligatins t the Cuncil by paying their debts, if they have the means t d s; they shuld allw fr a full appraisal f individual debtr s financial status and circumstances, any disadvantages and minrity, and take accunt f their bligatins t dependants; the prcedures shuld identify and allw fr the early engagement with debtrs wh are experiencing payment difficulties; debt cllectin shuld be n ging and pr-active t avid escalatin f the recvery prcess whenever pssible; the prcedures must allw fr a full appraisal f individual circumstances; and effectively distinguish between the debtrs wh cannt pay, and thse wh will nt pay; Prcedures shuld allw fr the early identificatin f instances multiple debts due t the Cuncil frm an individual r business. As it may nt be immediately evident that a debtr has multiple debts, at the pint when a debt is likely t be escalated t either curt actin r referral t slicitrs r bailiffs wh may take enfrcement actin r incur further charges the case fficer dealing with the debt will ask the debtr 5

6 Wiltshire Cuncil Crprate Debt Recvery Plicy: if they have any ther debts t the cuncil and will ask fr their authrity fr the relevant cuncil departments t share infrmatin with ne anther abut live debts, thrugh the Debt Management Panel. In cases that invlve Cuncil tax, HB verpayment r rent, befre frmal actin is taken the case fficer will instigate a panel hearing with ther services t check if actin is being taken in that area. prcedures shuld prvide fr a referral t either the cuncils wn internal debt and mney advice r specialist advice centres such as the Citizens Advice Bureau; invices issued by the Cuncil shuld clearly state the standard acceptable settlement perid allwed e.g. within 28 days f invice date; recvery prcedures must be efficient and cst effective and shuld ensure that the risk f bad debts is minimised; recvery prcedures shuld be flexible t allw fr nt just the payment f current debts, but als fr the allcatin f amunts received against utstanding arrears when apprpriate. bailiff services and evictin shuld nly be emplyed as a last resrt., 8. Practical applicatin The Cuncil s recvery prcesses are designed t ensure that the majrity f debts due are paid prmptly. Hwever the fllwing specific prcedures will apply in instances where debt recvery is less straight frward: Where a debtr is experiencing payment difficulties, all circumstances will be evaluated. All reasnable ffers f debt repayment will be cnsidered accepted. Where an individual is experiencing payment difficulties full cnsideratin shuld be given t all debts due t the Cuncil. Pririties r rather the distributin f any payment will be agreed by the Assessment Grup, as the pririty may vary depending n the situatin f the debtr. Where there are multiple debts and these have a significant pssibility f giving rise t curt actin then the Assessment Grup Panel will cnsider all 6

7 Wiltshire Cuncil Crprate Debt Recvery Plicy: debts tgether and will seek t recver against multiple debts t avid hmelessness, cmmittal, repssessin and bankruptcy prceedings. 9. Escalatin and enfrcement prcedures If nrmal recvery prcedures fail t recver amunts due, despite the actin r interventin f the Panel, the fllwing prcess and principles f escalatin shuld be applied: Cnsideratin shuld be given t the terminatin f the service being prvided t the individual r business cncerned, unless there is a statutry bligatin t cntinue that prvisin; Any external csts incurred by the Cuncil in pursuit f debt recvery are the respnsibility f the debtr e.g. curt csts. The Cuncil will hwever, endeavur t keep such csts t a minimum; Payment rders made by the curt will take precedence ver any infrmal payment arrangements that have previusly been agreed; Where bailiffs and/r debt cllectin agencies are instructed, they will be required t wrk within agreed guidelines and relevant industry Cdes f Practice at all times. The perfrmance and use f bailiff services will be mnitred and reviewed n a regular basis. the Cuncil will use all reasnable legal means available t recver debts including; Cunty Curt Judgements attachment f earnings deductin frm benefits bailiffs services debt cllectin agencies pssessin prceedings bankruptcy liquidatin Cmmittal t prisn prceedings. evictin 10. Bad Debts and write- ffs The Cuncil will nly write-ff debts as a last resrt, and nly when all reasnable avenues f recvery have been explred and it has becme clear that further attempts t settle amunts utstanding have becme impracticable, r unecnmic. In such circumstances the Cuncil s Crprate Debt Write Off plicy shuld be fllwed in all cases. 7

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