Common sense, but more tact please

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IT is unlike The Southern Reporter to write two consecutive leaders in support of Scottish Borders Council, but this week we report on the appointment of a private company by the local authority to chase householders who are erroneously or fraudulently receiving a 25 per cent discount on their Council Tax.

London-based Northgate Public Services has sent out around 5,000 letters to those currently benefiting from the so-called single person discount (SPD).

The firm was issued with the names and addresses of all 18,000 Borderers who currently receive the discount and narrowed down its search by using the Experian credit report database.

While there may be some disquiet that a private company has been tasked with this job, it is saving local taxpayers some £20,000.

However, the obvious common sense involved in this decision should have been extended to making sure the letters sent out by Northgate were at least more tactfully written.

Threats to cancel their discount if people do not reply to the letter promptly and of possible fines and that the personal information entered on the form could be supplied to the police and other debt recovery bodies is a bit heavy handed.

Bear in mind that many of those 5,000 people receiving these letters will still be genuinely entitled to receive the discount and will also be prompt payers of their Council Tax bills.

They are entitled to feel a bit aggrieved. For the sake of a bit more tact their goodwill could have been retained.