City of Wolverhampton Council is one of 29 local authorities across England and Wales which have chosen to pilot a scheme that will help them recover unpaid council tax.
Unpaid council tax currently costs English local authorities around £3 billion in lost revenue – money which pays for essential services.
City of Wolverhampton Council is now taking part in the trial with HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) to be amongst the first to use new debt information sharing powers introduced by the Digital Economy Act (2017).
Through the pilot, non-paying customers who are employed or have an income will be contacted to start paying their debts, or they will have their debt deducted directly from their earnings through their employer.
The Act allows councils to obtain employer and income information from HMRC for people who have failed to pay their council tax and have an order to pay by the local magistrates court.
The pilot allows councils to work with HMRC to share employment information that will allow them to help manage and recover unpaid council tax, which could be used to improve services to residents.
City of Wolverhampton Council already works closely with debt advice providers to support vulnerable residents who are struggling with debt.
Anybody who finds themselves in a position where they cannot pay their council tax should contact the local authority immediately to discuss their situation.
The pilot will last for a year, it will then be reviewed before a decision is made whether to roll the programme out to all councils in England and Wales.
In order to provide transparency about what data is being shared each pilot is registered on gov.uk.
Cllr Louise Miles, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “The vast majority of our residents pay their council tax which helps to pay for essential services and support our city’s most vulnerable residents.
“However, there is a small minority of people who try and cheat the system and these are the people we are targeting through this pilot. Unpaid Council Tax cost Wolverhampton taxpayers almost £6 million last year.
“We are not talking about those people who are struggling to makes ends meet and genuinely can’t pay their bills – we try and support them as much as possible.”