A report from the Executive Director – Resources is attached. (Key decision – reference number 5207)
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) introduced the report of the Executive Director Resources seeking approval of the proposed Fair Debt and Income Strategy.
1. That this Strategy replaced the Debt Policy that had not been refreshed for some time. It would implement a progressive approach to the management of debt and income in Enfield.
2. It would improve access to benefit advice and debt support to residents.
3. The recommendations from the Poverty Commission report have had an input into the Strategy to ensure a fair approach to debt management. Poverty is a feature of all inequality that exists within the borough.
Alternative Options Considered: None applicable to this report.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed to
1. Approve the new Fair Debt and Income Strategy detailed in Appendix 1 of the report. The objectives of the Strategy were to: maximise collection; increase income; minimise the cost of collection; protect vulnerable and low income households; improve the provision of co-ordinated debt, benefit and other advice; provide accessible and consistent transactions for collection service customers, including local businesses; and, protect the public purse.
2. Note that individual action plans to deliver each objective would be monitored by the Fair Debt and Income Board. Some individual work programmes had already been agreed and underway and others would require further work either within the existing resources of the services or using normal Council project authorisation processes. Individual collection procedures would be amended to reflect the new strategy.
3. Agree that the Fair Debt and Income Strategy would be reviewed annually to ensure it remains fit for purpose, particularly with regard to the evolving pandemic and subsequent recession.
Reasons: Enfield faced an unprecedented challenge to its collection services due to: COVID 19 and the emerging recession; the increase in personal indebtedness; welfare reform cuts in financial support to benefit recipients; the need to deliver service efficiencies and savings.
To protect the Collection Fund, Housing Revenue Account and other essential income the Council must enhance and adapt processes to: maximise income; minimise the cost of collection; protect the vulnerable/low income households; sustain tenancies to minimise evictions from social housing; improve the provision of co-ordinated debt, benefit and other advice; provide easy, consistent access for customers to transact with the collection services, including local business.
(Key decision – reference number 5207)