Council Tax and business rates recovery procedure policy


Vulnerability criteria

A failure to maximise collection of Council Tax and business rates will potentially put council services at risk and increase the likelihood that council taxpayers and ratepayers who do pay on time will have to subsidise non payers through future increases in the level of council tax.

We recognise that some taxpayers and ratepayers will, due to their individual personal and financial circumstances have extreme difficulty in paying their council tax and business rates, and recovery action, particularly where an option under sections 17, 18 19 and 20 of these procedures is being considered, may not be appropriate where these suggest the taxpayer, ratepayer or other household members may be vulnerable in some way.

We will ensure processes are in place to ensure that due regard is given to this group of taxpayers’ and ratepayers. A person may be considered vulnerable in the following circumstances. The list is not exhaustive and each case will be decided on its own merits:

  • the person is elderly
  • the person is seriously ill or mentally or physically disabled
  • the person has communication or learning difficulties
  • the person has young children and where there is severe deprivation
  • the person has recently experienced a recent marital break up
  • the person has recently been bereaved or made unemployed

Falling into one of these categories does not automatically mean that recovery action is not appropriate. We will make individual decisions based upon the individual circumstances of the taxpayer or ratepayer to identify if recovery action is appropriate and, if so, what action to take.

Different recovery proceedings cannot be applied simultaneously to the same liability order (or debt), but can be applied subsequently if a debt remains outstanding. The choice of recovery action is made at the discretion of the council’s recovery officers and will take into account the taxpayers and ratepayers circumstances on a case by case basis and the guidance within this policy. The revenues service may become aware of vulnerable ratepayers and taxpayers following contact from the taxpayer, ratepayer or their representative or once recovery action is instigated. Alternatively, this information may become available from other internal systems used by us, from other service lines or from other support agencies. Where the enforcement agent on visiting the taxpayer or ratepayer identifies vulnerability they have procedures in place to take the appropriate action.