A pioneering piece of work across council services has been shortlisted for the Solutions Partner Award at the Public Finance Awards 2020.

Thurrock’s debt management approach highlights the many types of debt a resident may have across council services and enables vulnerable users to be more clearly identified. Stronger support can then be provided for residents to help them manage all outstanding balances without having to speak to different council services numerous times to discuss each type of debt. This should also make repayment plans more manageable for residents.

The award submission highlighted Thurrock Council as being the first local authority to introduce a debt management system that provides a ‘single view of debt’.

Cllr Deb Huelin, Cabinet member for central services, said: “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.”

Cllr Shane Hebb, Cabinet member for finance, said: “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.”