Laura Sharman 27 August 2015

Councils used bailiffs 2.1 million times last year says charity

Councils used bailiffs 2.1 million times last year says charity image

Councils referred 2.1 million debts to bailiffs last year, an increase of 16% in the last two years according to a new report.

A freedom of information request by charity, Money Advice Trust, found council tax debts were passed to enforcement officers on 1.27 million occasions in 2014/15, while parking-related debts were passed on 715,000 times.

The report, Stop the Knock, said those councils who used bailiffs the most actually had less success in collecting council tax arrears, and warned residents faced a ‘postcode lottery’ over their treatment for arrears.

‘Something is seriously wrong here. On the front line of debt advice we know that sending the bailiffs in can deepen debt problems, rather than solve them – and it can also have a severe impact on the wellbeing of people who are often already in a vulnerable situation,’ said Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust.

‘Local authorities are facing significant funding pressures – and they of course have a duty to collect what they are owed. In the case of council tax, this is particularly crucial in ensuring proper funding for the local services we all rely on.

'Too many councils, however, are far too quick to escalate to bailiff action when better preventive work, earlier detection and support for people who fall behind are far better options for all concerned.’

However, council leaders said due to a 40% reduction in government funding, local authorities had no choice but to reduce council tax discounts.

Cllr Claire Kober, chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: ‘Bailiffs are only ever used as a last resort by councils. Before the situation reaches a stage where bailiffs are involved several letters will have been written, people will have been encouraged to apply for financial support, and efforts will be made to arrange new payment plans or to attach the debt to a salary.

‘Anyone having trouble paying their council bills should get in touch with their local authority for financial help and advice.’

The charity has written to all council leaders calling for improvements in the way arrears are handled.

Overcoming the barriers to Commercial Card use image

Overcoming the barriers to Commercial Card use

Want to reap the benefits of Commercial Cards but coming up against some challenges? James Sykes, Head of Commercial Cards, Lloyds Bank and David Legg, Head of Corporate Card Products, Lloyds Bank, discuss how the payments industry is helping organisations unlock their true value.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Independent non-executive members of proposed NHS Integrated Care Boards

Do you have the vision to shape the future of health and care for people in your area? Nationwide
Recuriter: NHS

Lead Community Protection Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£37722 - £40869 per annum + value award of £2,472 per annum
2 x Lead Community Protection OfficersCommunity Protection Team(PO3 plus an incremental value award of £2,472 per annum) Permanent Our Community Prote England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

School Organisation Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£41,952- £48,663
We’re giving a platform to people inside and outside our community. Because, we’re not just home to the UK’s fast-growing economy. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Service Manager (Referral and Assessment)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£60,426 to £74,202 per annum
Can you inspire, encourage, and develop excellent social work practice to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Asset Management Team Administrator

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£26,544 - £30,618 per annum
The role is what you make it, and the more you put in, the bigger the difference you can make to... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue