William Eichler 25 August 2020

Debt charity calls for ‘long overdue’ bailiff reform

Debt charity calls for ‘long overdue’ bailiff reform image

A debt charity has warned that the Government’s public health guidance for bailiffs leaves concerns about the impact of debt collection on households ‘unaddressed’.

On Friday evening the Ministry of Justice published public health guidance for enforcement agents to follow as the Government’s five-month emergency ban on visits comes to an end.

The move follows concerns raised by debt advice charities over the resumption of bailiff visits on public health and financial hardship grounds.

Jane Tully, director of external affairs at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said she was ‘relieved’ that the Government had put in place public health guidance for bailiffs.

However, she warned that guidance ‘only addresses some of the concerns that have been raised over the resumption of bailiff visits.’

‘As households continue to struggle with the impact of Covid-19, the fact bailiffs can now resume visits risks making bad situations worse,’ she said.

‘The Government should urgently introduce changes to the way council tax debts are collected, in particular, to reduce the use of bailiffs in the first place – and finally bring forward plans for an independent regulator for bailiffs and bailiff firms.

‘Bailiff reform is long overdue, and the outbreak of Covid-19 has brought the need for independent regulation of the bailiff industry into sharp focus. Without fundamental reform – and an independent regulator to make sure that guidance of the kind published on Friday is actually followed – households will remain at risk.’

Responding to the new guidance, Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive officer of the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA), commented: ‘At the end of August, the vast majority of visits taking place will be to enforce fines, traffic offences and other penalties that have been outstanding since before the coronavirus lockdown came into effect.

‘We are aware that some people will be in financial difficulty and there will not be a sudden rush of enforcement visits, but it is only fair that those with outstanding debts have the opportunity to pay and ensure councils get the funds owed to them at a time when it is needed most.

‘Our data suggests that councils are concerned about funding shortfalls and the majority have agreed how and when enforcement visits can resume.’

‘Safety remains the number one priority across the industry,’ he added.

Safely into school image

Safely into school

How many plans can be made when it comes to transport to education settings? Liz Davidson reports.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

SEND Operations Assistant

Essex County Council
Up to £12.02 per hour
The SEND Operations Assistant provides administration and support to the statutory SEND processes such as the Annual Review Process, in particular at phase transfer, as well as providing a triage service for all contacts received by the SEND Operations Te England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Relief Resource Centre Worker - Nidderdale Children's Resource Centre - Award Winning Team

North Yorkshire County Council
The role of Relief Resource Centre Worker is invaluable, rewarding, complex and challenging; you will play an... Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Specialist Teacher

Birmingham City Council
Main/ Upper Pay Scale + up to full SEN Allowance
This exciting opportunity will be to join a well-established team supporting children and young people with communication and... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

People Analytics / Workforce Planning Lead

Essex County Council
Job Purpose This role will be responsible for carrying out data extraction, manipulation, research, analysis, and interpretation of data to provide me England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Building Surveyor

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£39774 - £42684 per annum + Essential Car Allowance
Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for this position. Please click on the job title below to view the Job Description and apply to it! England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

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