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Council to discuss new debt recovery policy for those in temporary accommodation

15 Apr 2024 2 minute read
Port Talbot. Image via Google

Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter

Councillors will discuss adopting a new policy for the prevention and recovery of arrears for those in temporary accommodation later this week.

The policy, which is provisionally scheduled for discussion at a meeting of Neath Port Talbot Council on Thursday, (18 April) will look to set out a scheme that prevents tenants going into arrears on rent and service charges for temporary accommodation.

It will also look at recovering costs which have already occurred, to help with improving pressures on the homelessness budget which is expected to overspend by £1.3m in 2023-24.

Charging policy

The latest set of proposals will be presented just weeks after the council agreed a separate charging policy for certain residents accessing temporary accommodation, due to what it said was a shift in demographics.

This was agreed upon after a meeting where members were told of a 108% increase in households accessing temporary accommodation since 2019.

The change means that those accessing temporary accommodation in the borough will now have to pay towards the service if they are in receipt of an income that “places them outside of the eligibility criteria for welfare benefits”.

The most recent report, set to go before the committee, says: “As part of improving budget management it is recommended that the council implements an arrears prevention and recovery policy. This will also improve tenants’ individual accountability as well as promote budgeting skills.

“The process for debt recovery of sums owed would be in line with the council’s debt and enforcement process and in line with the council’s Charter for the Collection of Debts. This process would be overseen by the council’s debtors’ team.”

The report also says the aim of the policy is to prevent the debt from building up in order to reduce its occurrence as well as recovering monies wherever possible.

To achieve this, they will take a number of steps such as running “regular publicity and communication campaigns” to make sure tenants know what support and assistance available to them, as well as identifying any early issues and focusing on “personal contact at the earliest opportunity”.

The proposals have been recommended by council officers will now be brought before members for a decision.

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