New hardship scheme to launch at Tyne Tunnels

A new service is set to launch in April which will provide free debt management advice and support for those experiencing financial hardship, should they receive an Unpaid Toll Charge Notice (UTCN).

Earlier this year, the Joint Transport Committee, Tyne and Wear Sub Committee requested a new scheme to be put in place at the Tyne Tunnels, supporting members of the public who receive an UTCN who may be unable to pay.

Transport North East has worked with TT2 Limited (the operators of the Tyne Tunnel) to put the new pilot system in place this spring. It is hoped that the new service will provide support to people in financial hardship, helping individuals access assistance and advice. In some cases, enforcement costs will be waived for those struggling with unpaid tolls.

The service will be delivered by independent debt advice experts PayPlan, who will assess, and support individuals referred to them from TT2 Limited. PayPlan advice will be based on personal circumstances and individuals can receive debt management support, money advice, cancellation of UTCNs or a referral to supporting charities or welfare groups including Refuge, Gamcare and Bipolar UK.

Cllr Carl Johnson, Chair, Tyne and Wear Sub Committee, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to put the new PayPlan debt advice service in place which will help those struggling to pay a UTCN as a result of financial hardship.

“As well as providing guidance relating to the unpaid toll charge, people using the new scheme will also receive personalised advice related to their individual circumstances, so I hope this will make a difference to those who need to use it.

“We know that there are local people who are struggling at the moment, including vulnerable people, so I hope people make use of this new system to get the help they need.”

To access the new system, individuals should contact TT2 Limited’s customer service line to discuss their UTCN. The customer service team is available on 0191 574 0031.

Cllr Johnson adds: “The committee continues to monitor the implementation of Tyne Pass and I am pleased to see that levels are noncompliance continues to reduce. In February non-compliant journeys were around 4.71% which is reduced from 5.22% in January. We continue to work closely with TT2 to ensure the appeals process is fair and that tunnel users receive good customer service.

“Tyne Pass has already achieved a 90% reduction in carbon emissions which aligns with our ambitions to reduce air pollution in the North East.”

Iona Murray, Partnership Development Manager, PayPlan, said: ““In 2022 we’ve already seen record demand for our free debt advice service which we only expect to increase further with the cost of living crisis.

“We understand that it can be really daunting to reach out to a stranger and have a conversation about your finances, so partnering with organisations to encourage more people to seek advice as early as possible is key to ensuring customers get the right support when they need it.

“We look forward to working with Tyne Tunnels to support individuals who find themselves struggling financially and unable to pay Toll Charge Notices.”

Chris Ward, Customer Operations Manager, TT2, said: “The introduction of PayPlan will enable us to work with and support customers who are experiencing financial difficulties.

“PayPlan have a vast experience of supporting customers through financial difficulties, and we are positive that this will help our customers who need it most.”

To find out more about the Tyne Tunnels visit: www.tt2.co.uk  

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