Harrow Council will hire more debt collectors
A west London council is set to hire more debt collectors to prevent it from losing millions of pounds every year.
Harrow Council plans to re-hire ‘enforcement officers’ – formerly known as bailiffs – to collect unpaid council fees, including council tax, business rates and parking fines.
According to a report, which will be discussed by the cabinet of the council next week, these officers could save the council up to £5million each year.
The council intends to outsource this service, with the intention of using up to two companies over a three-year period.
These contracts can be extended for a further four years, with the overall budget set at £10m.
The council explained that it relies on money collected by collectors, as taxes and parking fines make up “a substantial proportion of the total annual budget”.
Its report stated: “With the decline in other sources of revenue and increased reliance on local revenue collection, appropriate resources must be deployed to ensure revenue stability and maintain the high in-year collection rates historically achieved. .”
The council added that it expects to recoup its costs for the debt collection service using fees paid by those who owe money – this currently stands at around £1m each year.
It comes as it approved its budget for 2022/23, which includes a council tax increase of 2.99% – the maximum allowed without the need to call a local referendum.
After taking into account the Greater London Authority council tax contribution, this means households in Band D will pay £2,044.78 next year.
This represents an increase of £82.42, or £1.58 per week. It is also the first time that those living in Strip D properties in Harrow will pay more than £2,000 council tax.
This is on top of National Insurance increases due to take effect in April and the huge jump in energy costs that many have experienced.
Harrow council will consider debt recovery plans at a cabinet meeting on Thursday March 10.