Laura Sharman 23 November 2017

London borough to stop using bailiffs to chase debt

Bailiffs will no longer be used to collect council tax debt under a new joint venture launched by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

The council will partner with 1st Credit from April 2018 to help improve the treatment of those who owe money to the council.

As well as ending the use of debt collector for council tax, the partnership also aims to reduce the number of cases that end up in court.

The council’s cabinet member for finance, cllr Max Schmid, said: ‘Heavy handed debt collection in the public sector is counter-productive: court action, bailiffs and lawyers all cost money, and can create high levels of stress and anxiety in families that find themselves in debt.

‘We are determined to offer an ethical approach to debt management that both helps residents at risk of falling into debt and saves money for taxpayers at a time of massive funding cuts from central government.’

The joint venture - H&F Ethical Debt Collections - has already started taking over collections in the borough, beginning with former tenant arrears and housing benefit overpayments.

This month, a charity warned the number of bailiffs being used by councils to collect debts has risen by 14% in the last two years.

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