How Thurrock Council embedded a holistic approach to debt collection
The topic of Government debt collection is increasingly at the forefront of both central and local government thinking. The introduction of the Breathing Space initiative, the Government Debt Management Function within the Cabinet Office and the growing clamour from MPs for the creation of a Debt Management Bill are all indicators that the direction of travel is towards a more sensitive approach to debt collection that is predicated on an understanding of wider issues and vulnerabilities.
Thurrock Council were grappling with these questions back in 2009 when they introduced their Fair Debt Policy and Vulnerability Guidelines, however technology and staffing restraints always presented a barrier to effectively delivering their ambitions.
Xantura and Thurrock started working in partnership towards the end of 2018 to address both the technological and ethical questions which the challenge presented. Thurrock have now rolled out the Single View of Debt & Vulnerability service for their management team and frontline staff, putting them at the leading edge of the debt and vulnerability agenda.
"It's great to see the council’s leading approach to debt management, in partnership with Xantura, be recognised in this year’s Public Finance Awards."
“This piece of work is a tremendous step forward for both residents and the council as it enables us to view a detailed picture of an individual’s debt across our services, the support they are receiving and any vulnerabilities that should be considered when the council makes decisions around debt collection."
"Conversations about debt, when you are in debt, is a hard thing to have to do and having a call about each debt is difficult, mentally. This approach means that people in debt have a conversation about the entire 'debt picture', rather than having to have multiple conversations with different officers about their individual types of debt.
"We contact residents to collectively explore their debt as 'one big picture' and work out a safe and manageable way forward for repayment. This prioritises the well-being of our residents, and also saves time and resources across many services in how we support them with their outstanding balances."
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