Solving UK council tax challenges for vulnerable customers

Citizens’ Advice has seen a 33% increase in requests for help with UK council tax debts over the last 3 years. This makes it the number one debt issue for the charity.


Councils are owed millions in unpaid taxes yet still face budget cuts. A simpler way of improving collection rates is needed, but one that still supports vulnerable customers.

To make matters worse, councils in England are being accused of rushing to use bailiffs for recovering council tax debts. This adds significant costs to bills that debtors are already struggling to pay.

Citizens’ Advice asked 1,100 people in England with council tax debt to discuss their experiences. Over half said that a general lack of money had caused them to fall behind with payments.

On top of this, 30% of those surveyed had received a cut in wages. Another 25% had their benefits or tax credits cut. And over 70% had received extra charges to their existing bills, which they had already been struggling to pay.

Councils are also asking vulnerable customers to pay remaining annual costs in one payment, rather than using monthly installments. Citizens’ Advice wants more councils to offer affordable repayment plans.

The problem is that billing and payment platforms that councils commonly use are not flexible enough to offer tailored repayment plans for those in debt. This makes it very difficult for people to pay back what they are owed. Even if they do, it often incurs high additional charges.

A flexible, automated Direct Debit payment solution can resolve many of these issues.

GoCardless allows a council to:

  1. Create flexible payments plans for vulnerable customers.
    Allows customers to pay smaller amounts more frequently - daily, weekly or variable amounts each month. It depends on what they can afford.

  2. Take immediate action on customer issues.
    The GoCardless platform can issue real time alerts whenever payments fail or Direct Debit mandates are cancelled. This allows support to get in touch with customers immediately to handle the problem.

  3. Set up new plans quickly and easily.
    Changes to customer payments plans can be implemented within just 3 working days and payments taken on specific days of the month to support these vulnerable customers before they get into further debt.

  4. Lower admin overheads.
    Automating manual systems and streamlining processes allows council staff to focus on priority customers, rather than paperwork and removes errors from manual submissions.

  5. Benefit from low transparent fees.
    Low price per transaction with no set up costs, hidden fees or minimum contract.

To find out more, visit gocardless.com/local-government.

Alternatively, call our team on 020 8338 9537 or send us a message through the following form:

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