Debt and Arrears in Scotland: Policy and Practice Development
Building on the existing evidence base around low-income families being pushed into debt and arrears by public bodies, Iota Social Research was commissioned to explore policy and practice solutions at a local level with a particular focus on the role of local authorities and third sector partners.
Authored by Mandy Littlewood, the report highlights that, despite challenging circumstances, there is clear evidence of action which local authorities can take to make a real difference to households. These include:
- Having a clear debt policy in place
- Shifting from enforcement to support when working with individuals, offering flexibility and building trust
- Providing support at an early stage, including assessment of vulnerability and using discretion to ensure proportionate, person-centred responses with appropriate and affordable payment schedules
- Developing person-centred approaches which distinguish between 'can't pay' and 'won't pay' customers
- Ensuring communications focus on encouraging positive engagement
- Proactively use data insights to better target support
- Ensure those eligible claim for Council Tax reduction, which is currently significantly under-claimed
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