Our new approach to help the vulnerable avoid spiralling debts

Released: Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Residents at risk of debt could be spotted and given help early through new, specialised text messaging and a pioneering online tool designed locally.

We want to help prevent struggling people from falling into lasting debt and are working hard to make residents aware of support available to them during the cost of living crisis.

With the ability to quickly identify those who are struggling, we can take a proactive and preventative approach to debt by directing people to effective independent support and guidance before financial problems spiral.

From next month, text message reminders will be sent to those who are late with their Council Tax payments, encouraging them to get in touch with us rather than allowing bills to mount up.

Residents will instead be urged to use the TellJO service - designed by a Shoreham-based company - to complete a simple online questionnaire which will show them how to request a fair repayment plan with the Councils, get discounts on their utility bills and receive debt advice.

The tool also provides signposting to third sector organisations offering support for those dealing with issues including mental health conditions, drug or alcohol problems, or domestic abuse.

Our new approach follows the successful launch in July 2021 of our Proactive initiative, which uses pioneering database technology to help us identify at an early stage people who may not be coping financially, so that we can offer appropriate help quickly and efficiently.

Cllr Emma Taylor, Worthing's Cabinet Member for Citizen Services, said:

“The cost of living crisis is affecting everyone in the borough, but there is a range of support available to people. We must work quickly and collaboratively to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens know where to go to access that support during these tough times.

“The Proactive model allows us to seek out those who are struggling really effectively, to extend that helping hand at a much earlier stage.”

Cllr Angus Dunn, Adur's Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said:

“We are determined to do what we can to help those in our community who are struggling to make ends meet. Not knowing how you are going to pay the bills each month is an extraordinarily difficult and stressful experience.

“Finding out who is in difficulty as early as possible means we can quickly get our residents the help and support they need.”

See also: Cost of living support

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(PR22-219)

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Page last updated: 29 November 2022

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