Local democracy and decision making
Income and Debt Strategy
(Report no: 187/10-11)
Contact for Information: David Ashmore, Divisional Director, Revenue, Benefits and Customer Service. Tel: 020 7926 0949.
During the discussion of this item, the guillotine fell at 9.00 pm.
MOVED by the Chair, and:
RESOLVED: That in accordance with Standing Orders 9.5 – 9.7, the meeting continue for a further period of up to fifteen minutes.
David Ashmore, Divisional Director, Revenue Benefits and Customer Service, introduced the report. He explained that this was the first draft of the strategy which would be consulted upon before finalisation. As regards Income Collection, performance had improved and Lambeth was now one of the highest performing authorities in London. This was reviewed on an annual basis.
In response to questions from Members it was explained that:
- There was an improvement in collection for Penalty Charge Notices in relation to Parking Charges and there was a lower level of appeals being upheld.
- The collection rate for Section 20 debt was significantly higher than in the past and there was a decrease in the amount of historic debt. A breakdown could be provided to Members of the Sub-Committee.
- As many methods of payments as possible were accepted. It was planned that payment by cheque would be phased out by 2015.
- A check would be made to make sure that all details of people with multiple debts were recorded in the same place. There was also a necessity to look at those people who consistently failed to pay. Members considered that there was a need for tougher action to be taken against debtors.
- Officers would investigate as to whether it would be possible to publicise details of individuals and organisations that owed a lot of money to the Council.
- Through Financial Shared Services there was an increase in working together between the various agencies involved in debt collection and that a bailiff arrangement with one part of the Council would be binding on others.
- There was a necessity for a balance to be taken between tough action and being sympathetic to people’s situation. Some members felt that the first letter to debtors should be softer as the council would not necessarily know if it was dealing with a vulnerable person.
The Chair stated that there was a need to look at income maximisation.
That the report be noted.