Laura Sharman 14 July 2020

Bailiff costs could add £158m to council tax debt, charity warns

Bailiff costs could add £158m to council tax debt, charity warns image

People in council tax debt could face an extra £158m in bailiff and court costs, research has warned today.

StepChange has calculated that people who owe more than £500m of arrears on council tax since the start of the pandemic, could be hit by up to an additional £158m of costs.

The debt charity is calling on the Government to introduce a statutory pre-action protocol that would require councils to take certain steps before using bailiff enforcement.

It also wants changes to council tax regulations to give local authorities greater freedoms when dealing with debts.

StepChange CEO, Phil Andrew, said: ‘Local authorities need both help and a prescribed process from central Government to ensure that their first and foremost aim in current circumstances is to help their residents get back on their feet financially through affordable repayment plans, rather than to subject people who can’t afford to pay their council tax to even higher costs and stress.

'We call on the Government to amend the council tax regulations, and to introduce a statutory council tax pre-action protocol, to ensure people facing debt do not see their problems exacerbated by archaic elements of council tax regulation and practice that are lagging behind the Government’s wider policy objectives.’

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