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Cllr Donnelly at debt surgery with council officers

Free debt advice

More than 1,500 residents were invited to a debt surgery, aimed at supporting residents struggling with bills, at the Dominion Centre in Southall on Wednesday 31 January.

These quarterly surgeries are aimed at residents who owe money to the council relating to unpaid penalty charge notices, particularly those who may be struggling to afford payments. This is a chance to discuss their repayments with the council’s enforcement agents in a neutral environment.

Councillor Steve Donnelly, cabinet member for inclusive economy, attended the surgery where a welfare support team from the council’s enforcement agents held confidential 1-to-1 meetings with residents who have outstanding parking fines.

Councillor Donnelly said: “For many people struggling with debt, the situation can feel hopeless, and they feel they will never be able to escape debt. These surgeries are a chance for them to sit down and work out a sensible and achievable plan to clear their debts and get their life back on track.”

Attendees can talk about their personal circumstances and how these may be affecting their ability to pay off their debts and many have an opportunity to work out and agree a payment plan to clear their debt.

At previous surgeries, residents were able to sign up to affordable payment arrangements that work for them. In some cases, repayments were put on hold to provide the debtor some breathing space. Attendees have also received advice on how to access other services that may make their financial position more stable.

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, deputy leader and cabinet member for climate action, said: “Our parking enforcement officers are firm but fair. Road safety and reducing congestion are important to residents and if our officers see someone parking illegally, we will fine them. But we also want to work with residents who find it difficult to pay the discounted £65 penalty and to agree payment plans where possible.”

If you are experiencing problems paying your penalty charge notice, council tax or other council bills, don’t ignore the problem. Contact the team or enforcement agent to whom the debt is due and explain your situation, providing proof of your income and expenditure. It may be possible to help manage the debt payments differently.

There are a range of services available through the council and charities, offering free and impartial advice, and there is no need to struggle alone.

The next debt surgery will take place on Wednesday 24 April 2024.

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