Posted: Tue 23rd Apr 2024

Neath Port Talbot Council Approves Arrears Prevention Policy for Temporary Accommodation /

Neath Port Talbot Council has approved a policy for the prevention and recovery of arrears for those in temporary accommodation across the borough.
The policy, which was debated at a council meeting on Thursday, April 18,  discussed how the authority will begin a scheme that prevents tenants going into arrears on rent and service charges for temporary accommodation.
It will also look at recovering costs which have already occurred, to help with improving pressures on the homelessness budget, which is expected to overspend by £1.3m in 2023-24.
The latest set of proposals came just weeks after the council agreed a separate charging policy for certain residents accessing temporary accommodation, due to what it said was a shift in demographics.
It was agreed upon after a meeting where members were told of a 108% increase in households accessing temporary accommodation since 2019.
It means those accessing temporary accommodation in the borough will now have to pay towards the service if they are in receipt of an income that “places them outside of the eligibility criteria for welfare benefits”.
The most recent report on the arrears recovery scheme read: “As part of improving budget management it is recommended that the council implements an arrears prevention and recovery policy. This will also improve tenants’ individual accountability as well as promote budgeting skills.
“The process for debt recovery of sums owed would be in line with the
council’s debt and enforcement process and in line with the council’s
Charter for the Collection of Debts. This process would be overseen by
the council’s debtors’ team.”
The report also says the aim of the policy is to prevent the debt from building up in order to reduce its occurrence, as well as recovering monies wherever possible.
To achieve this, the council will take a number of steps such as running “regular publicity and communication campaigns” to make sure tenants know what support and assistance available to them, as well as identifying any early issues and focusing on “personal contact at the earliest opportunity”.
Speaking during a scrutiny session, members asked for assurances that the policy would not disadvantage vulnerable people who might struggle with paying their bills.
Officers said residents would be given as much support as possible throughout the process, and highlighted the importance of the scheme due to the “notable” amount of arrears owed to the council, as well as the impact any  debts would have on a resident’s ability to eventually obtain a new house and leave temporary accommodation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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