The Welsh government has introduced legislation which removes the power to imprison people for not paying their council tax.
The changes, which are designed to make council tax fairer, also exempt young care leavers who are under 25 from paying council tax.
Alongside this legislation, the Welsh government and local authority leaders have made a commitment to take ‘a more consistent and people-focused approach’ to debt, arrears and enforcement with the introduction of the Council Tax Protocol for Wales.
The protocol, originally developed in partnership with the Local Government Association, offers practical steps aimed at preventing people from getting into debt and outlines how to ensure enforcement agents act within the law.
‘We know that households are struggling to cope with the UK government’s welfare reform and I want to make sure the Welsh Government and our local authorities are doing everything we can to help.
‘This new legislation is another positive step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. We will continue to work closely with local authorities, the WLGA and third sector organisations to examine how the council tax system could be improved over the short, medium and longer term.’
Council tax raises over £1.3bn a year for vital public services in Wales, according to the Welsh Local Government Association.
Cllr Mary Sherwood, the WLGA spokesperson for equalities, welfare reform and anti-poverty said: ‘The Council Tax Protocol for Wales is a step-change in our approach to debt and arrears and will focus on early engagement with tax payers.
‘It also promotes closer working relationships with our partners in the advice sector and enforcement agents to ensure that problems don’t needlessly spiral out of control for vulnerable people. We look forward to building upon these measures with Welsh Government.’