New debt collection measures as council rate debt recovery make up 30 per cent of NSW Local Court civil matters

New debt collection measures as council rate debt recovery make up 30 per cent of NSW Local Court civil matters
New debt collection measures as council rate debt recovery make up 30 per cent of NSW Local Court civil matters

NSW local councils are being encouraged to work with property owners who have unpaid rates to get on payment plans instead of taking ratepayers to court.

The State’s 128 councils collect more than $4 billion in rates each year which fund roads, footpaths, libraries, parks and swimming pools. 

Council actions to recover debts for unpaid rates make up 30 per cent of Local Court civil matters.

"More than 80 per cent of these claims involved amounts less than $2,000 and a high proportion were settled, paid or written off by councils before judgement,” Attorney General Mark Speakman said.

Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton and Attorney General Mark Speakman released new Debt Management and Hardship Guidelines and called on all councils in NSW to review their policies and procedures to treat ratepayers more fairly.

The guidelines promote a range of strategies and actions councils can use to help ratepayers pay on time including:

  • ·         a ‘stop the clock’ approach to suspend debt recovery, legal action and interest accrual while a ratepayer’s hardship application is awaiting determination or while they are complying with a payment plan;
  • ·         tailored plans and flexible payment options including weekly, fortnightly and monthly instalments;
  • ·         promoting Centrepay as a voluntary way for people to pay their rates directly from their Centrelink payments;
  • ·         discounts to provide incentives for prompt payment in full;
  • ·         greater discounts for pensioners facing hardship;
  • ·         options for ratepayers to receive their rates and pay their rates electronically; and simplified rates notices including information in relevant languages.

The guidelines have been issued by the Office of Local Government under the Local Government Act.

Tags: 
Court Local Government

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