This policy defines the circumstances in which Doncaster Council will consider a person vulnerable. This will not preclude the Council from taking any form of recovery action but it will ensure that the circumstances of the vulnerable person are fully considered prior to any action being taken.
While there is no definition within any of the Council Tax regulations of “vulnerable person” this policy provides guidance as to what may constitute vulnerability and what actions should be taken to identify and deal with the vulnerable debtor.
We recognise that certain groups of customers may be vulnerable. These groups may include, but are not restricted to:
- Pregnant women or recent parents
- Long term sickness, serious illness or frailty
- Physical disability
- People with learning difficulties, or mental health problems
- Recent bereavement
- Severe financial difficulties and in receipt of or have claimed Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit or Employment Support Allowance
- Customers with communication difficulties
- Customers with a history of alcohol or drug misuse
- Victims of domestic violence
Not all people in these groups may be vulnerable, but we will consider your individual circumstances if we know about your vulnerability.
What we will do
- We will work with you to agree the best method of recovering outstanding arrears and the easiest way for you to pay.
- We will clearly mark your records that you are a vulnerable person when vulnerability has been identified.
- We will carefully consider each case where vulnerability has been identified before taking any recovery action.
- We will not take action such as bankruptcy, charging order or committal on any case where vulnerability has been identified before we make an appointment with you.
- We will adapt our recovery process where we are aware that a customer is vulnerable to minimise any hardship or distress.
- We will clearly explain our decisions regarding our action and our reasons for refusing any requests.
- We will signpost our customers to any help that we consider may be useful in their circumstances.
What you should do
- You must tell us of your vulnerability at the earliest opportunity. We may ask you to provide some evidence, such as a doctor's letter, to establish the nature of your vulnerability. This is to ensure that we are clear on any particular needs you may have so we can help you.
- You should complete an income and expenditure form to give us an accurate picture of your financial situation.
- If you want someone to discuss the account on your behalf you will need to write to us confirming who can deal with the account.
- You should keep us informed of any changes to your circumstances and any address change.
- You should make any payments you have offered whilst we are considering your offer.
- You should review any services that our officers may signpost you to so you can decide if they are relevant to your circumstances.
We will try to help you if you are in arrears and have a vulnerability but can only do so if we know your circumstances.
Further information is available on our website at www.doncaster.gov.uk/counciltax
Or you can contact us in the following ways:-
Civic Office, Waterdale, Doncaster, DN1 3BU. Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm
Civic Office, Waterdale, Doncaster, DN1 3BU.