Voicemail and email reminders are the latest measures being introduced by Swindon Borough Council to help people keep on top of their council tax.
The Council will roll out the new system later this summer and the email and voicemail messages to phones will supplement the text reminders that have been in place for the last few years.
It is hoped the additional reminders will increase the Council’s council tax collection rate, reduce the printing of paper reminders and, ultimately, reduce the need to take recovery proceedings.
In Swindon, council tax collections rates are among the highest in the country remaining above 98 per cent over the last six years.
In order to reduce the use of enforcement agents, the Council calls residents prior to undertaking recovery proceedings for non-payment. Those contacted are requested to make payment of part or all of the arrears or, if unable to, are offered a revised payment arrangement.
Phone calls and an increased use of text reminders to mobile phones helped to cut the number of summonses issued by 25 per cent over the past six years.
The email reminders will also include information about how to get personal budgeting and debt advice.
Councillor Russell Holland, Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Education and Skills, said: “We want to treat everyone fairly when it comes to the collection of council tax. If anyone is having any problems paying their council tax it is really important that they contact the Council urgently so that we can see what we can do to help. The best way to contact the Council is by calling 03453 022 316 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
“We are also keen to help people who may be in debt or struggling financially and work closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Christians Against Poverty, the local credit unions and other organisations who can provide help.
“We have found that some people who were struggling financially were eligible for benefits and with some help getting those benefits they were able to get on top of their debts. It’s really important to get help from a legitimate organisation. I’m sad to say that there are loan sharks who target people in Swindon and anyone who thinks they may be a victim of a loan shark can also get help by contacting Stop Loan Sharks on 0300 555 2222.”