Help on debt is at hand

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AS WIGAN householders continue struggling to make ends meet, Wigan Council officers have delivered a practical response to issues of local debt.

For those who find themselves in difficulty in paying their bills the council wants help to be clearly accessible for all customers including individuals, businesses and other organisations.

Debts against the council can have serious consequences such as imprisonment for Council Tax evasion or eviction for rent arrears.

But there are a number of options open to assist those in debt. People can access the Valuation Tribunal if they believe the council has acted incorrectly on a Council Tax billing matter and the Appeal Tribunal can be consulted for decisions on housing benefit claims.

In particular, the council is anxious that people in debt with council tax and rent speak directly to officers rather than approach loan sharks or other agencies.

The council’s debt strategy states that all cases will have individual treatment according to the circumstances surrounding their debt.

Officers will assess people’s ability to pay based on the proportion of disposable income that the customer states they have. A leaflet with the contact details of organisations who can advise and assist is available from council offices.