Slough Borough Council is to become the latest local authority to cease using bailiffs and pass unpaid debts to credit management firm Intrum in a bid to improve both yields and the service residents receive.
The agreement with H&F Ethical Collections, the joint venture partnership set up by Intrum UK and Hammersmith & Fulham Council to overhaul local authority collections practices, will see the first collections for Slough begin later this month.
Under the arrangement, Intrum will take on the collection of historic debts across a range of services including council tax, business rates, sundry debts, former tenant arrears and housing benefit overpayments.
Intrum said it will work with residents to establish their financial circumstances and agree payment plans they can afford. The joint venture will apply Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) best practice standards to all debts, not only those in the private sector.
The council’s decision follows widespread calls for change in local authority collections, including the publication of reports by the Treasury Committee, National Audit Office, Citizens Advice and Money Advice Service.
Eddie Nott, UK managing director of Intrum, said: “Our experience is that a sympathetic approach is more effective than aggressive collections and the use of bailiffs. This approach will return more money to Slough in the long term, enabling the council to continue to fund essential services for its growing population.”
Neil Wilcox, director of finance and resources at Slough Borough Council, said: “We are looking forward to working with Intrum and we are keen to see how an ethical approach to collecting debts can improve outcomes for everyone.”