Council tax debt: Concern over use of bailiffs

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Bailiffs were tagged in to collect debts by councils in England and Wales on more than two million observances last year, a charity has discovered.

Council tax arrears accounted for 60% of covers sent to bailiffs by local authorities in 2016-17, the Money Intelligence Trust said.

The Trust, which runs National Debtline, phrased more could be done for the vulnerable in debt.

The association representing directories said they had a duty to collect taxes.

Enforcement agents, commonly known as bailiffs, were tolerant of to chase council tax arrears on 1.38 million occasions out of 2.3 million the truths, the «Stop the Knock» report by the Money Advice Trust found.

They were also tolerant of on 810,000 occasions for unpaid parking fines, 86,000 times for volunteer business rates, and on 50,000 occasions to recover overpaid housing profit, the report found.

The use of bailiffs has risen by 14% compared with two years ago when alike resemble research was carried out by the charity.

However, it said that there had been widespread amelioration in the way councils used this last resort.

Its concern was, primarily, in the use of bailiffs by smaller cabinets.

‘Last resort’

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Notice Trust, said: «The growing use of bailiffs to collect debts by many neighbourhood pub authorities is deeply troubling.

«Councils are under enormous financial lean on, and they of course need to recover what they are owed in codify to fund vital services. However, many councils are far too quick to proffer to bailiff action.»

She said that, in doing so, people could be thrust even further into debt.

«Bailiff action should but ever be used as a last resort, and can be avoided by early intervention,» she augmented.

Some 50 councils had signed up to a protocol aimed at preventing those at chance from getting behind on key payments.

The Trust wanted more cabinets to sign up to an official policy on how to treat vulnerable residents, and to exempt the most exposed from bailiff action completely.

The Local Government Association, which pictures councils, said people facing difficulties should contact their neighbourhood authority to discuss options such as repayment plans.

Claire Kober, who professorships the LGA’s resources board, said: «No council wants to ask people on the lowest gains to pay more, but councils have a duty to their residents to collect tolls — these fund crucial services, such as caring for the elderly, shielding vulnerable children, keeping roads maintained and collecting bins.

«With assemblies facing a £5.8bn funding shortfall by 2020, it is essential that these backs are collected so these vital services can be protected.»

She said that assemblies took steps, where possible, to ensure people in financial Gordian knot embarrassment were supported.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government judged: «We expect councils to show sympathy for people in genuine hardship and but use bailiffs as a last resort. However, every penny of council tax that is not serene means a higher bill for those law-abiding citizens who do pay on time.

«To strengthen those facing financial difficulties we have given councils the powers to create their own council tax support schemes to best meet their specific need.»


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